Passing through the corridors outside the Durbar Hall in Kochi, a girl pauses. It is not unusual for the ground floor hall to be filled with paintings and sculptures. What stopped her were the differences she saw between the exhibits hanging in the same hall. The mediums changed from acrylic to oil to water colour to pen and pencil and charcoal. The sizes varied. The paintings changed to art installations and sculptures towards the centre. Then there were the names of the artists kept at the bottom of every exhibit – 70 names – famous names, established names, novices, students. 'Under One Sky', without a lot of noise about its vastness, came quietly to Kochi after a stop in Kottayam.
“We had all got together for the Monsoon Festival in Kottayam. I went from Thiruvananthapuram to Kannur, meeting artists who are active in the field,” says T.K. Udayakumar, artist and curator of the exhibition. By now, he can brief any new visitor with the main points, take one to the paintings of the senior most and the award winners, and the rare exhibits. So he leads the girl who paused at the door to Kanayi Kunhiraman’s paintings, because you always hear only about his sculptures. There is another veteran's work nearby - Kattoor Narayana Pillai, also the current Lalithakala Akademi chairman. But there is no senior-junior separation. No sections. So in the same row of Kattoor's work, you find young Sindhu Divakaran's work. Sindhu, Jagesh, Sajith and Smitha – who won the Lalithakala Akademi Awards this year – have put up their works there.
“My painting is about all the children who suffer from the various natural calamities, wars and abuse. I don't know how to explain it,” Sindhu says about her sepia-toned work where a boy kneels down and newspaper prints float about.
There is one non-Malayali too in the group – Sapna Sharma from Rajasthan who put up her graphic prints. “She is also the wife of P.G. Dinesh, an award-winning artist whose work is also exhibited,” Udayakumar adds. There is another family all of whose members are artists. “Mohan Chalad, who died last year in Bengaluru when his exhibition was on there,” Udayakumar says and takes you next room to show his daughter Yamini's work, a mother and child among crows, painted mostly in lines.
Among the art installations is the work of V.V. Vinu who had been to the Chinese Biennale. Sculptures of V. Satheeshan are in bronze. Next to it hangs Manoj Vyloor's attractive long acrylic painting, a man holding a woman in blue. Udayakumar's own work is from a place called Kinathukadavu in Pollachi where he goes to paint sometimes. It is full of peacocks and hens and what Udayakumar calls a ‘scary kind of peace’.
The exhibition ends today.