Date: 15 December 2023 to 27 January 2024
Venue: Gallery Ekami, South Bazar, Kannur, Kerala
There is a whisper that often goes unnoticed; the voices unheard from the margins. It is a parallel reality that lies in the heart of our society, where a symphony of muted voices, stories, and resilient spirits exists. This group show, comprising the reflections of four contemporary artists, explores the subtleties and hidden narratives of those living on the periphery. In a sense, this is a celebration of endurance in the face of displacement and the shadows cast by mainstream attention – whether it be related to gender or social standing. ‘Parallel Realities’, featuring young talents Abdulla PA, Anupama Alias, Debosmitha, and P.S Jalaja, is a tinge from the margin that delves into the poignant stories of human displacement, gender disparities, and, of course, the peripheries of life in terms of history and humanity. Thus, it explores the nuanced and often overlooked facets of the dynamic relationships between self and the other. These artistic expressions evoke empathy and understanding for the displaced, inviting viewers to contemplate the complex tapestry of their lives. The artworks serve as a medium to amplify the voices that are often silenced and to showcase the strength that emerges from adversity. Yes, these creative reflections reveal the profound beauty of subaltern existence and identity.
About the artists
Debosmitha’s works serve as reflections of her perception of the society she inhabits, as well as the way women perceive themselves and their identity. Simultaneously, her paintings probe into certain experiences, familiar spaces, memories, family history, dreams, and personal mythologies that recurrently emerge in her art. The focal point of her work is the exploration of the psychological and emotional aspects of a woman’s life within the context of society. Here there is a distinct element of storytelling, with a majority of the characters being her family members, particularly the women who have played significant roles in her life. The visuals find expression through initial scribbling, gradually evolving into a narrative of their own. The imagery in her works encapsulates a broad spectrum of experiences, representing themes carrying metaphors and deeper meanings. Her creative expressions draw from a profound and dormant reservoir of experiential memory, with the act of painting or drawing serving as a tool to extract these memories.
Hailing from West Bengal, Debosmitha completed her MFA in painting from Hyderabad Central University. Her artistic journey has seen participation in numerous exhibitions and residency programmes. The overarching theme of her creative experiments revolves around the concept of ‘presence in absence’. The landscapes she creates extend beyond traditional depictions of trees or bushes, incorporating overlapping layers of her own memories and personal mythologies.
Abdulla P A
Abdulla PA breathes new life into often overlooked found objects from their natural surroundings, endowing them with a transformed existence that is inherently transient. Drawing inspiration from biomimicry and biomorphism, Abdulla engages with peculiar natural items, infusing their essence into the realms of art and design. Concurrently, he explores how these elements can be integrated into his artistic practice, unlocking their untapped potential.
His sculptural installations, crafted from seemingly random objects, possess an enchanting fragility that belies a deeper political message embedded in our contemporary reality, with an underlying ecosophical undertone. Objects and machines often mimic the patterns and forms inherent in nature. Yet, Abdulla prompts us to consider what transpires when the ego-centric human agency in art-making is intentionally erased, allowing for a non-invasive human understanding of nature. Abdulla, having completed his BFA from the Govt. College of Fine Arts, Thrissur, challenges our conventional perception of beauty by focusing on material objects. However, the act of placing these objects within the context of art poses a distinctive challenge. He adds that nature, once again, becomes a collectible item subjected to human design in this process. Abdulla PA’s work prompts us to reconsider the relationship between human creation and the inherent beauty of the natural world, urging a shift in our perspectives on art and its intersection with the environment.
P S Jalaja
Through her works, P S Jalaja attempts to trace the history of ‘man’ within the collective ‘human’ history, which plays a prominent role in her art. As an MFA holder in painting, she provides a counter vision, depicting a wide spectrum of emotions from laughter to deep cries within the canvas of many people’s histories.
One of her series, titled ‘Boat People,’ reflects on human displacement resulting from ethnic cleansing and border conflicts. In this body of work, Jalaja portrays the consequences of new wars erupting worldwide. An overloaded boat, laden with whatever belongings could be gathered at the onset of the exodus, becomes a symbol of the human tragedy of our times. This term, ‘Boat People’, originally coined during the Vietnam War, is now a stark reminder of the ongoing struggle for survival faced by ordinary people in current conflicts, notably in Syria and Iraq. Jalaja expresses her personal connection to these global issues, stating, “I am being affected by all these powerful images of human suffering.” This series serves as a continuation of her previous series, which also explored the extreme pain and suffering that humans endure, thrust into the predicament of loneliness and helplessness. Through her art practice, Jalaja contributes to a visual narrative that speaks to the shared histories and contemporary struggles of humanity.
Anupama Alias centers her works around the concepts of gender and femininity. As a painter, she intervenes in the language by employing various representational and aesthetic strategies to destabilize notions of gender, femininity, self, and the other. Her art serves as an ethnographic account, narrating stories of others through her own body, or vice versa. One of her works, “Bhavitha” (The one who Imagined), creates faces and masks, often evoking a sense of the performative aspect of gender identifications/dis-identifications through various enactments.
Anupama’s focus extends to depicting women during a transitional and vulnerable phase in their lives, specifically the ‘middle’ years – not the adolescent years that have been the primary focus in her recent works. In a macro-metaphor, her art centers on people, transitions, identity, and the ‘in-betweenness’ of existence. Holding an MFA in Painting from S N School of Arts and Communication, University of Hyderabad, Anupama Alias has received numerous accolades and actively participated in various exhibitions.
Her works seek to unravel the implied desires and fluctuations of identity imposed by womanhood. The goal is not solely to emphasize the universality of womanhood but to delve into the essence of being a girl first and a woman later. Anupama Alias uses her art to explore and express the complexities and nuances of female identity in its various stages and transitions.