Kottayam: Those who throng the streets of Kochi these days are welcomed by a poster that carries an image which is essentially an oxymoron for anyone interested in history, politics and of course art.
The black & white image of Mahatma Gandhi, with a bare chest and a smile, the meaning of which is difficult to decode, has red – the Communist red, if one may call it so – with a star in the backdrop. Connoisseurs who seek to explore the image and its underlying layers of pregnant subtleties may throng Kashi Art Gallery, Fort Kochi, in the coming days as it is the key to a solo show of internationally-acclaimed Keralite artist Riyas Komu's latest works.
The exhibition titled "On International Workers' Day, Gandhi From Kochi" will open at Kashi Art Gallery, Burgher Street in Fort Kochi at 7 pm on May 1.
The exhibition by Komu, a Mumbai-based artist and co-founder of the Kochi Muziris Biennale, which placed Kerala on the global art map, attempts a relook at Gandhian principles of satya, swaraj, antyodaya, sarvodaya and ahimsa, which holds the key to the political and philosophical universe of Gandhi.
Taking inspiration from Gandhi's observation on religious intolerance and call for amity, "On International Workers' Day, Gandhi From Kochi" attempts to readdress the present times by juxtaposing Gandhian ideals against perception, violence, victim, fear and control. The exhibition will feature two major works of Komu titled "Stoned Goddesses and "On International Workers' Day, Gandhi From Kochi" (a series of five paintings).
"In 'Stoned Goddesses' I have attempted to capture my understanding of Independent India's psyche through important events that scarred its history and in the process, shaped my own identity. The legacy of a fractured society has been the basis of my quest as an artist to understand the nature and texture of prejudice," says Komu, whose works are notable for the explicit and courageous depictions of highly political statements.
On the selection of Gandhi as the motif for the show, Komu says, “I approach Gandhi to not only consider the historical precedent but also to check where we are now. It is also an attempt to assimilate many-sided truths.”
The exhibition will be preceded by a discussion titled "Gandhi, Now" at David Hall, Fort Kochi at 3. 30 pm. It will be attended by Amrith Lal, S Anitha, Anvar Ali, K Aravindakshan, C Ashraf, V.T. Balram, Dileep Raj, Dr. M Gangadharan, S. Gopalakrishnan, K.G. Jagadeesan, K.K. Kochu, N.S. Madhavan, N. Madhavan Kutty, Najmal N Babu (TN Joy), Rafeeq Ahmed, B. Rajeevan, Sarah Joseph, Shahabaz Aman, K.P. Shankaran, K.J Sohan, K. Venu and Vijayaraghavan Cheliya among others.
The exhibition will be on till May 31.