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A jugalbandi in colour

The gay abandon in the use of space, even in the small frames, enriches the paintings of Toshiaki Ruiki and K. P. Thomas



CELEBRATING RURAL LIFE: One of the exhibits at the Roerich Memorial Art Gallery

"THIS IS the temple in Ambalapuzzz...". Toshiaki Ruiki struggles with the name of the coastal town of Central Travancore, much like the way he has been grappling with the unfamiliar sights, smells and sounds of Kerala in the past eight months.

Ruiki found the cultural chasm between Thiruvananthapuram, his home since May 2004, and the land he was born in, Japan, rather depressing. Undeterred, he traversed the length and breadth of the State and absorbed the impressions of this land. Ruiki reproduced them in an 18-part series of paintings titled `Sketches of Kerala'.

He points to one of his paintings and says with a glint in his eye: "The crow perched on the roof of the temple is a frustrated `Thiruvananthapuram kaaka', that is me."

Journey of discovey

As a newcomer to the capital, Toshiaki Ruiki, from the land of chrysanthemums, took some time finding his feet.

"I was frustrated, the food was totally different, the language was something I did not know... " says Ruiki.

Artist K. P. Thomas adds: "During one of his strolls, Ruiki came into my home, drawn by the signboard, `Gallery', and the architecture of the house."



I often find myself in a hurry to move to new representations - K.P. Thomas

The visitor soon found his own space. The two men found common ground - both were artists.

Thus began the journey of discovery for one and a catharsis for the other.

Toshiaki Ruiki, an engineer by profession, is here on a one-year assignment with the Kerala Water Authority (KWA). Rather than restrict himself to the project, Ruiki has been actively discovering the hoary traditions of Kerala.

Festivals such as Attukal Pongala, places such as Munnar and Ambalapuzha all have left their imprint on Ruiki's mind. The result of his journeys in this land of temples and festivals is the myriad moods of the State captured on canvas.

K. P. Thomas' paintings are a study in contrast, celebrating rural life and ethos. He draws copiously from the surroundings he grew up in and his childhood experiences.

Flowers and cows, boats and elephants, temples and goats, all are grist to his mill. One cannot miss the feminine form that dominates several of his works. It is, however, not the sensuous woman that Thomas depicts in his paintings. Says he: "Most often, the woman for me is close to nature and creation." Thomas, a self-taught artist, works in a bank and finds that art is the best way to energise his soul.

Lively tones

About the lively tones that are revealed in his present collection, `Ancestral Memories,' Thomas says: "The changing expressions have always been a part of my works. I often find myself in a hurry to move to new representations. The inspiration comes from the memories of the days spent in Wayanad."

The constant urge to break away, rather than fall into a groove is evident to anyone who remembers his earlier works, such as the `Mananthvadiyan Dreams'.



The language was something I did not know - Toshiaki Ruiki

The most striking feature in the assemblage was the complimentary tone in the works of the two artists who had exhibited their works at the Roerich Memorial Art Gallery, Russian Cultural Centre.

The artists, who have two distinct cultures, now live in the same land and draw from images that are rooted strongly in the traditional. The gay abandon in the use of space, even in the small frames, makes the experience of viewing the works a special one.

BHAWANI CHEERATH

Photos: S. Mahinsha

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