Art is exploding at the seams within Fort Kochi. While the world has poured in to experience an artistic high created by visionaries from various quarters of arts and science, one cannot ignore the Malayali presence within the art fortress of the Kochi Muziris Biennale (KMB). Bara Bhaskaran, C. Bhagyanath, T.V.Santhosh, Tony Joseph, E.P. Unny, K.R. Sunil, P.K. Sadanandan and Anand are the Malayali artists who have made their presence felt amongst the jamboree of art at this year's KMB. TV Santhosh’s wooden sculpture is a marvel to behold. Placed in the centre of a large room inside ‘Uru’, one of the KMB venues at Mattancherry, the work ‘History Lab’ is a majestic piece of intricate wooden carving. “What I have captured here is the high points from history in the past 200 odd years,” he says.
“It is about a process of understanding the history from the point of view of progress defined by industrial and technological advancement and how these high points of advancement in turn become the yardstick of measuring the extent of damage caused by man against its own kind and nature,” he elaborates. Santhosh is often associated with presenting violence clubbed with the most unexpected circumstances on canvas. He stood true to this reputation here as well with a series of paintings on display.
“About this work named the ‘The Protagonist and Folklores of Justice’, Santhosh explains, “These works are part of my new water colour series, extensions of my ongoing preoccupation with understanding history in relation with a process of enquiry into war and terror that shapes our perceptions of reality and ethics. Both the sculpture and the paintings talk about history of war and violence.” A crowd has gathered in front of a collage hung on a wall. Located inside a room on the top floor of the Block A building inside AspinWall artist Bara Bhaskaran’s work elicited ‘wows!’ and a plethora of queries in the minds of the observers. The wall works his works pointed out that he has attempted recreating Kerala’s past. His works have been christened ‘Amazing Museums’.
On prodding further about the artwork, Bhaskaran elaborates, “For the past 10 to 12 years, my works have been travel-oriented. I used to contribute a column in a lieray magazine, that had text and illusterations. It was not just any kind of drawing, it was more about travelling, understanding the history of a place and then linking it to people’s contemporary lifestyles. It focused on bringing out local history. I could say that the work here is related to a region, its history and people.” The collection of his work comprises of a large painting, miniature paintings and a large collage, which he prefers to call ‘a montage’.
Sheets of butter paper fluttered inside the CB room within Block A. As the paper fixed to the wall danced to the rhythm of breeze, C Bhagyanath’s visions came to life. Bhagyanatha and his work ‘Secret Dialogue’ have turned out to be one of the most enigmatic and awe-inspiring ones at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale. His work was an ongoing process during the first few days of the KMB. It is a story about layers — about the relationship between mind and body.
K R Sunil and his series of photographs named ‘Vanishing Life - Worlds’ is an ethnographic enquiry into certain cultural and trade practices and rituals of the Mappila community. It basically depicts the social and commercial life of people in the port town of Ponnani. P K Sadanandan’s ongoing creation of his mural art work is another crowd-puller while Tony Joseph’s ‘Biennalle Pavillion’ at Cabral Yard has turned into a point where art, science and philosophical discussions culminate.