Blog Curated Shows

Tenderness goes a long, long way

I’m looking at the artists concept notes that each has sent me.
Unvarnished deeply felt beautifully written candid words.

I have already savoured their images by visiting studios, shows and opening email files. For some reason it melts something locked like a tight fist inside me and wells up as tears. A strange kind of aching sweetness.

“You’ll find out you’ll find out you’ll find out… that Tenderness… goes a long long way!”

From some recess of childhood memory of LP record afternoons in my parents’ home with the blinds drawn across the windows to shield out the fierce arab sun, Sam Cooke’s soulful throaty crooning.

Though the song is one counseling a young lover to conduct himself always with tenderness and kindness, towards his loved one, no matter what the circumstance, I found myself replacing the image of the loved one with Life itself.

I feel so fortunate that in these cataclysmic times that we live in, globally and locally,be it in terms of climate, political turmoil, war, hunger, unrest, attacks on freedom and of late, closer home, the looming ugly threat of fascism dividing hearts and tearing apart the founding aspirations of this country, here are my crazy fellow sojourners, who respond to strife with such infinitely stubborn mad tenderness…

One is an unassuming looking poet with a day job in a busy far off metropolis who embroiders the magnificent dream underside of his life topside-up in his fabulous frames: Ranjith Raman

Another from a meditative tradition, compulsively paints flower strewn nuptial beds after a shock encounter with life as lived out by the poorest people in cramped segments of a heritage quarter of his city – picturesque for the outsider but rotting & decrepit for those who live choicelessly in its decaying insides: Madhu Venugopalan

A third is a restless battle scarred veteran dreamer of a just utopia who has now eschewed more overtly political imageries for surreal trees: Johns Mathew

A fourth paints tiny insects and flowers with a tender delicacy that borders on obsessiveness: Hima Hariharan

The fifth pits himself against himself and then chronicles the ensuing struggles using self portraiture and animal metaphors: Nandan P. V

The sixth, Asha Nandan, steeps herself in painting a single subject in her most immediate domestic vicinity-Cats as a preparatory for a more playful vocabulary of forms that are right now on her anvil.
The seventh is a sculptor of iridescent fish using thickly loaded paint where fish is a metaphor and an alphabet of memory of his native island after which he has named himself: Sunil Vallarpadom
An eighth, magnetised by a mesmeric speck of new life, his first infant, paints her allusively by painting the objects in her world with infinite slow layers of water-colored tenderness:
Jagesh Edakkad

There is a ninth artist too now. Even if his participation is duration bound: Swagath Sivakumar.

This young Sufi singer responds to my curatorial note in a conceptual jugalbandhi with a list of songs specially put together for this show: “Yeh to Ghar hain Prem ka”.

Meet them all through their works and expanded curatorial notes at LongTime Art Space.

Meet your soul through Swagat’s interpretation of Sufi & Bhakti poets.

May their gift of Tenderness go a long long way with you for a long long time!

Art Projects Blog

Hahnemann & the Cinchona Tree

Deepak Bhai and I met way back in early March 1994 on someone’s recommendation in his first Homeo Clinic in Ravipuram. I lived just down the block within walking distance.

Quite worried I stretched out my firstborn, Adityan, nearly four months old then, with his rotund body, his mop of wild curly hair and expressive saucer eyes to him.

“Doctor! he is burping out lots of curdled milk and is not drinking properly now. I am afraid something is wrong with his digestion!”

Doc gave him an unceremonious jab on his belly and promptly some more milk split out from the corner of his smiling rosebud mouth.

“Nothing wrong with the baby! ” pronounced the young man from Gujarat who was raised here in Mattancherry. He added with a slightly disapproving snort looking straight into my anxious eyes “You are overfeeding him.”
That was possibly true. I was blessed with a literal flood of milk and simply loved to cuddle and nurse him.

Still, I protested with an argument “But he drinks, Doctor! He wouldn’t drink if he wasn’t really hungry, would he??”

“This little fellow!… You go on giving and he will just go on drinking! “Adu shamelessly gurgled his concurrence with his twinkly greedy beady eyes playfully flailing his chubby little hands at Doctor whose serious countenance was beginning to crease into a smile

“So you better space out your feeds! No meds required.”
I acquiesced and left. I quite liked the doc though, with his matter of fact, no-frills sensible attitude and our friendship began that day. From thereon over the long years, he has seen me through some of my darkest hours as a confidante. He has seen my shatterings in close up as not very many have.

I saw doc grow older, marrying, putting on weight, becoming a family man, buying a property. shifting at least three clinics… None of this changing his innate sense of really wicked mischief devastatingly combined with his strict no-nonsense public demeanor.

I suddenly recalled dimly the story of how the Cinchona tree from which Quinine, the only medicine for Malaria is made, helped Hahnemann formulate the basic tenets of Homeopathy.

So I was happy when recently he asked me if Thomas and I could do his clinic wall for him.

We had just about begun EkaRasa, a public platform for Art and Creativity.

At first, we passed it on to a more experienced artist friend dealing with some tougher times than we were right then. But as destiny would have it, the work came right back to us and we were on, as usual, on a very short fuse where time was concerned. Thomas and I, both, admire powerful drawings and are equally passionate about the starkness of the black and white.

As we trawled the net together for a starting point, I came across a statement that said that the Cinchona tree was to Hahnemann what the Apple Tree was to Newton. That’s it. The trigger!

I suddenly recalled dimly the story of how the Cinchona tree from which Quinine, the only medicine for Malaria is made, helped Hahnemann formulate the basic tenets of Homeopathy.

We were on the roll with that.
Doc had anyway requested us to at least caricature or doodle Hahnemann. The plants all came pouring in. It helped that I used to go to read the Materia Medica aloud to my blind but imperious neighbor, an aged ex-freedom fighter Homeopath opposite my house when we moved from Ernakulam to Eroor when Adityan was two.

Energetic Bharti, their talented daughter Aditi and I, all tried our hand at composing the words Finally the mother-daughter duo’s creation went up on the wall at the last moment.

We got down to our task joyfully. Two festive days marked with tiny little celebrations for each small milestone and we were done with no erasures or overpainting of any kind. Fluent freehand strokes that did their job on time.

The response adds to our happiness and we thank dear Deepakbhai for including us in this important milestone in his life.

So we dedicate this edition of our blog to him with the following mildly irreverent lines:

“Written for dear Deepak Bhai,
The purveyor of pills.
The keeper of our secrets
The killer of our ills! ”

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