A mural route to serenity

A mural route to serenity

Kerala-based artist P K Sadaanandan's murals are quiet musings on isolation.

A mural that was on display.

One would assume art shows and galleries feature low on priority lists when a pandemic is raging. However, this may not be wholly true, as exemplified by the response to gallery g's latest showcase, 'Taamara: The Genesis of Nature'. 

The exhibition held recently, when galleries had reopened, displayed the work of Kerala-based artist P K Sadaanandan in Bengaluru for the first time. Renowned internationally for his murals, in this showcase, Sadaanandan used natural colours and motifs to evoke earthy tones and patterns that highlighted the versatility of ancient mural-painting techniques. 

Sanitised appreciation

Despite present goings-on, to many dedicated art enthusiasts, displays at local galleries proved to be a breath of fresh air after lockdown. Archana Shenoy, Director of Curation at gallery g explains: "Earlier, passers-by would just see the sign and come in, but with fewer people out and about, this has reduced. However, we have had steady interest and attendance from our community of art-lovers, who call and check with us for appointments before coming in to see the display."

While footfall has, therefore, understandably fallen, interest in the pieces has not dwindled, with over half of the paintings being sold in the first week of the exhibition. Many of these sales were conducted over the phone, with gallery staff displaying pieces to enthusiasts via video calls. 

For those who did decide to see the display in person, the large square footage of the gallery space made it easy to ensure social distancing. The staff also took measures to ensure cross-ventilation and enforce essential precautions, including a disinfectant mat, gloves and masks. Refreshments are no longer being served at the space. 

Additionally, there were no pre-launch or launch events, no discussions and no interactive sessions with the artist. "We mainly lost out on the dialogue fostered by these events, since the community really enjoyed and engaged with these discussions. We have tried to move most interactions to the virtual space."

Creating during lockdown

On the artist's end, the public interaction was highly anticipated, and is, therefore, sorely missed. "While the response has been very encouraging, it is unfortunate that I am missing out on the chance to meet the lovely community in this city I have heard so much about," Sadaanandan reflects.

For the artist, the lockdown period has been intense, yet highly productive. In fact, Taamara, which was scheduled to be held in August, was brought forward by months, solely due to the time afforded by the lockdown for the artist to work intensively on his pieces in relative isolation. Sadaanandan elaborates: "I am very committed to my craft, which means I can spend weeks simply gathering, mixing and perfecting the elements for my paintings. The lockdown gave me enough and more time to prepare and then a substantial period to focus on my work without interruptions. There were no social commitments to attend to; hence, I could sit down and complete the pieces at a stretch."

Art itself, he believes, has become more reflective and introspective during this time. The pieces depict inner states of the mind, reflecting the unpredictability of the current scenario and the meditative nature of one's musings in isolation. "It is a completely unprecedented situation, being required to stay inside our own homes for such a long time. It is so new to all of us and all we can do as humans is to make sense of it as well as we can. When we have nowhere else to turn, we turn within and that process is what these pieces depict."

On the pandemic and his insights on how it affects artists, Sadaanandan is passionate and resolute in his answer. "My art is my art, regardless of situations in the world. The craft is most important, for any artist. Even if everything else changes, my craft and my commitment to it is what helps me create history."