CF John has always been an excellent narrator of his inspirations. The compelling way in which John brings life onto the canvas through his intriguing figures is sheer class.
In his latest series of works exhibited at the Mahua Gallery, John has exhibited works, which have been in the making for six years. He has dedicated these works to two saints, both of whom have been widely followed across the globe for their simplicity and preachings – Sant Kabir and Francis of Assisi.
This long-drawn project compelled John into searching and understanding the interconnectedness of everything that is, not something in abstraction but with direct engagement. This effort began with contemplating and experimenting in soil regeneration and engaging with issues affecting the community in which CF John lives and works. This experiment is powerfully present in the series. CF John’s work is a visual story book with meanings and emotions in every single frame.
The artist is instinctive as well as conscious in his multi-disciplinary collaboration, one which includes other artists, earth and water, flora and animals, people with their agricultural practices, daily habits, stories and myths, natural materials, as well as persons and problems he comes across in his social work.
Like in the organic world, he relies on everyone contributing to the common whole in a somewhat unpredictable, open-ended manner which now functions both in the form of independent acts and in response to the attendance of the other participants and to the place.
John’s patience, calm and warm gestures towards all living beings are clearly visible in his work. His many-directional involvement has been evident to his art audience, whereas he always emphasises his imperative — the simultaneous, mutually impacting role of aesthetics, agriculture and social activism.
Having actually had very few solo exhibitions, since the late 1980s, he has organised several interactive events and workshops with installations and site-specific work where references to the presence of nature and people living in its proximity remain vital.
The artist’s Kerala childhood recollections of farming processes and movements among the underprivileged fed into his long association with Visthar in Bengaluru, where villagers’ knowledge and intuition about soil, water and plants was always respected and applied on its campus, where the campus itself became a participant.
“Every moment, form and happening demand real physical resolve. And I understand it is in the core of these things that we can find what we seek the ‘song line’ that connects the immediate with everything before and after,” says John.
The exhibition is a collection of some intense work which the artist has been doing for several years. It is an ode to his dedication and narrative prowess. He has captured the emotional journey of women and the way he has picturised their attire, emotions, it resembles a motion picture.
The showing is on at Mahua Art Gallery till October 12.
— The writer is an art curator and art expert....