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Imprint on the mind



A few paintings exhibited at the recently concluded show of prints of Bhupen Khakhar's paintings and contemporary artists held by the Kerala Lalitha Kala Akademi at the Durbar Hall Art Centre, Kochi.

A FEW years ago when Kochi hosted the National Artists Camp, Sunil Das was at the camp furiously doing charcoal drawings of his famous bulls and horses. He completed three charcoals in a matter of minutes. He looked up and casually offered this journalist one of his bulls. "Take it," he said. That charcoal was a whopping Rs 40,000 rupees then. I did not dare touch it.

Today a Sunil Das painting is here in Kochi but this time around it is the print and not the original. No matter it was worth taking a look. The exhibition just got over. To commemorate the first death anniversary of Bhupen Khakhar the Kerala Lalitha Kala Akademi held a show of prints of Khakhar's paintings and some of the finest contemporary artists in the country at the Durbar Hall Art Centre, Kochi.

Several artists

Beside Bhupen Khakhar, there were prints of Sunil Das, Satish Gujral, S.H Raza, Tyeb Mehta, Laxma Goud, S.G.Vasudev, Bikash Bhattacharjee to name a few of the 60 artists who were showcased. Bhupen Khakhar who was a Chartered Accountant, was a self-taught artist and after nearly four decades of doing what he loved best, passed away on August 8, 2003.Thirty-one of the Khakhar prints displayed draw you into a very masculine world. The men with blue, grey, black eyes view the world around.


"You can't please all," shows a naked man, his nakedness screened by a half wall, looking at a village scene and the viewer naively becomes part of this complicity. Khakhar's `Janata watch Repairing,' `View from a Tea Shop,' `Cycle repair Shop,' `The Gold Smith,' meticulously depicts the life of the common man in his narrative-figurative style. But interestingly, women are almost nonexistent in most of these paintings and that includes the crowd scenes. Some of them are an explicit combination - a heady cocktail of homosexuality and religion.

"Two men in Banaras" depicts religious activity in the background, which glaringly contrasts with the aroused men in the foreground. Another painting `Yayati' shows the sexual rejuvenation of the aged King by a supernatural being.

`My Dear Friend' is left to the imagination to deduce what goes on beneath the sheet. S.G.Vasudev's `Vriksha' is from the Vriksha series where the man becomes the tree and the tree becomes the man - Vriksha is Purusha and Purusha is Vriksha. Laxma Goud's `Painting July 1' shows a perplexed man scratching his head while the stark lines of the woman is in a state of passion, which reveals the naughty amusement of the painter. N.S.Bendre's `Gossip', Bikash Bhattacharjee's `Man on the Swing', Satish Gujral's `King and the Maid' are some of the others that require moments of deep contemplation.

MINU ITTYIPE

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