First art show at Kochi’s Mahakavi G Sankarakurup Memorial showcases Kerala women artists


In the heart of Kerala, under the gleaming midday sun, lies an architectural marvel quietly waiting by the Abraham Madamakkal Road, at the terminus of Marine Drive near Mangalavanam. Its multi-level triangular edifice is as captivating from the exterior as it is on the inside. This structure, none other than the Mahakavi G Sankara Kurup Memorial, is hosting an inaugural event profound in its intention and expression alike—the Kerala Contemporary Women Painters art exhibition.

This seminal exhibition is a celebration of talent, showcasing an array of paintings, sculptures, and installations exclusively created by women artists. The event features an eclectic mix of generations, honoring both pioneers and the avant-garde. “What we often notice in group shows is the token presence of just a couple of women artists. I wanted to break that mold and leverage this opportunity to bring to light women artists across generations,” articulates Bindhi Rajagopal, an eminent artist and curator. Her collection for the exhibition includes the works of notable artists from T.K. Padmini to Sajitha Sankar, Anuradha Nalapat, Radha Gomathi, Rathi Devi, as well as contemporary creators like Sooraja KS, Kajal Deth, and Celin Jacob. A selection of Rajagopal’s own art also graces the gallery space.

Like constructing a mosaic, Rajagopal stitches together a narrative with artworks from several creators. Regrettably, certain pieces she hoped to present were beyond reach—like the original cherished works ‘Nilavu’ and ‘Pattam Parathunna Penkutty’ by the late T.K. Padmini. Understandably, the family conserves these masterpieces with great care, wary of the potential damage that could occur if mishandled. Despite this setback, Rajagopal acquired high-quality prints on canvas, ensuring Padmini’s legacy still whispers through the gallery halls.

The logistical hurdles in obtaining some of the original paintings are further highlighted by the downsizing of Sajitha Shankar’s sprawling canvases into petite prints for display. Notwithstanding these constraints, the variety of artwork compiled for the show sparkles with a curiosity that merits a visit from art aficionados and casual observers alike.

This amalgamation of creative force introduces the public to a diverse group of artists, including Victoria Charles, Lekha Narayanan, Nijeena Neelambaran, Sindu Divakaran, Latha Devi NB, Ponmani Thomas, Jalaja PS, Sara Hussain, Deepthi P Vasu, Lekha Vyloppilly, Sabitha Kadannappaly, Sithara KV, Nayana KS, Asha Nandan, Sruthi Siv Kumar, Jayasree PG, Smija Vijayan, Babitha Rajiv, and EN Shanthi, among others.

Each artist leads the spectator on a different trail, exploring themes ranging from gender norms, nature, and social constructs to introspective quests and metaphysical inquiries. The impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic also finds its place within this symphony of perspectives. The show unravels as a testament to how, while some artists are on an adventure with new modes of expression, another set is unabashedly crafting its unique, unfettered artistic language.

The Kerala Contemporary Women Painters exhibition is an immersive cultural experience set in an unusual gallery setting. It’s not simply an art show; it’s an epiphany of female artistic expression that transcends traditional boundaries, presenting a powerful commentary on the modern world. The visitation schedule of this enticing glimpse into women-led artistic exploration is set to run until February 14, from 11 am to 7 pm—inviting all those who value art and the poignant narrative it carries to step into a realm of visual storytelling helmed by Kerala’s daughters of creativity.

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