Kerala's creative world gets a shot of hope thanks to a contemporary art exhibition.

Kerala’s creative world gets a shot of hope thanks to a contemporary art exhibition.

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The Kerala State Coir Corporation, New Model Society Building, Port Museum, Eastern Produce Company Ltd, and William Goodacre & Sons Pvt Ltd are among the five heritage venues in Alappuzha, while The Durbar Hall Art Gallery in Ernakulam hosts the nearly two-and-a-half-month-long affair.

More than a year after the pandemic crippled the art sector,a contemporary art show, now on at Alappuzha in multiple heritage venues, has come as a shot of optimism to the artistic community in Kerala.

Titled ‘Lokame Tharavadu’ (The World is One Family), the art show is being organised by the Kochi Biennale Foundation with support from the state departments of tourism and culture and the Alappuzha Heritage Project and being implemented under the guidance of the Muziris Heritage Project Ltd.

The nearly two-and-a-half-month-long event is spread across five heritage venues in Alappuzha — The Kerala State Coir Corporation, New Model Society Building, Port Museum, Eastern Produce Company Ltd and William Goodacre & Sons Pvt Ltd and one in Ernakulam, The Durbar Hall Art Gallery.

The show, curated by artist and Kochi Biennale Foundation president Bose Krishnamachari, features the works of 267 artists, who trace their roots to Kerala and by scale is considered the biggest art event to be held in India.

The individual art works number well over 3,000, presenting a unique opportunity for art enthusiasts and connoisseurs to experience the richness and diversity of art practiced by contemporary Malayali artists.

But admission to the show is governed by strict protocols, including registration at the Covid-19 Jagratha portal of the state government and availing passes after uploading RT PCR Negative certificate or Covid-19 vaccination, a KBF statement said here on Monday.

“It’s absolutely amazing and something that should have been conceived before the Kochi Biennale. Lokame Tharavadu has a staggering number of highly talented and dedicated artists, some of them with out of the box thinking,” according to Radha Gomaty, a participating artist in the show.

Many of these artists, she said, are not on the gallery grid and often miss out any kind of security or standard of life that comes from the art that they make, and have to keep doing other things to meet their both ends.

“To learn that they continue in their dedicated pursuit of art despite these odds is something that is amazing. There might be historical, cultural reasons that contributed to this kind of flourishing number of practitioners,” Gomaty said.

T R Upendranath, another artist, said he was skeptical of the show initially.

“But when I made a visit, my perception changed altogether. The way the works have been displayed and the efforts that has gone behind felt like magic to me.

The awareness that so many artists are working in different styles was inspiring and some of the works enough to invoke a sense of jealousy”, Upendranath, who is exhibiting a series of drawings in the show, said.

He feels that anyone from outside the state who visits the show would be stunned by its range and scale.

Gomaty said it is remarkable that there are so many people working consistently on creative language with an index of awareness and a great belonging of social identity. “I am glad that an attempt has been made to bring as many people as possible under one umbrella.I do hope that this process goes on and helps create a permanent platform that can enable a global appreciation of what Malayali artists have been doing,” she said.

The Lokame Tharavadu show features works of 56 women artists, some of them virtually unknown. “I am sure this show would create a powerful ripple and set the bar high for future growth of art in the state. I feel a tinge of sadness that it’s happening when the pandemic situation has again turned worse, but the message of the show, The World Is One Family seems relevant than ever,” said Manoj Vyloor, a participating artist and principal, Fine Arts College, Thiruvananthapuram.

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