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Exhibition on illustrations in Malayalam periodicals on at Kochi Biennale

Exhibition on illustrations in Malayalam periodicals on at Kochi Biennale

Kochi: ‘Varavazhi’, an exhibition that seeks to trace the changes in the techniques and aesthetics of illustrations in Malayalam periodicals over the past few decades, is currently on here as part of the ongoing Kochi-Muziris Biennale art event.

Malayalam literature has for long enjoyed close ties with fine art, as illustrations have been integral to the depiction of key scenes and themes of printed works appearing in journals of Kerala’s native language.

The exhibition throws light at such an interesting symbiosis during a crucial juncture in the history of the State’s culture at the Kashi Art Gallery in Fort Kochi, one of the venues of the art extravaganza.

The exhibits depict the fascinating transformation that has been happening to the sketches and paintings in Malayalam publications, including newspapers.

The documentation of this artistic evolution till date comes stark as the series has two segments: one showing illustrations in journals that existed till a quarter century ago; the other featuring latest works in publications which are still in circulation.

The exhibition has been chiefly the result of a year-long project by the biennale co-curator Riyas Komu and fellow artist Kavitha Balakrishnan.

“This is only a start,” says Komu. Much of the resources came in from Thrissur-based Appan Thampuran Memorial Library functioning under the State’s Sahitya Akademi headquartered in that town.

The section on illustrations include those by yesteryear Athippatta Sivaraman, known as AS, who passed away in 1988, to K. Shareef, a leading new-age figure in the field.

It shows how the art has changed over the years with direct examples through the works of masters such as Namboodiri, M. V. Devan, C. N. Karunakaran, Kavita Mukhopadhyaya, Bara Bhaskaran, N. M. Rimson, P. K. Rajan and Bhagyanathan, among others.

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