The journey of the dragonfly
- Padma Jayaraj
September 24, 2021
Babu K.G, an Indian artist hailing from Kerala gets the unique opportunity for a solo show in Sweden (Sept18 to Oct 10, 2021). Curated by Dorina Mocan, an accomplished Swedish artist and curator, the exhibition is live now at Väsby Kunsthall, Stockholm. Anitha Sukhla, the consul of Indian Embassy Stockholm, graced the occasion.
The Swedish exhibition showcases an overview of the artist's many facets and range. Babu's signature large canvasses are products of a heart brimming with humanism, distinguished for its minute details, illustrious for its brilliant colors. Nature and its beings is the perennial theme that has lured lovers of art to his canvasses. The human, even when in focus, remains part of the rich legacy from where it has evolved, just like his Dragonfly, the artist's alter ego.
Inauguration of the Sweden show - Curator Dorina Mocan, Anitha Sukhla, the Consul of Indian Embassy Stockholm, Margareta Hamark, municipality council, sitar player Stian Grimstad
The solo show covers four facets of his oeuvre. The aborigines, their innocence, their authenticity, their love of life which is a celebration unparalleled, belong to the first phase. Nature, in her mystique aura is another facet. Pen portraits that include illustrious persons as well as street people executed by ballpoint pen, is a unique collection. The unfinished mural on a wall in Mattancherry Square, Kerala, a tourist haunt with layers of human history down the centuries has been stalled by the pandemic.
The solo show is a tribute paid by a fellow artist, Dorina Mocan, in these trying days of the pandemic where each one is in self imposed exile. International acclaim is a glorious period that recognized the latent genius in the self-made persona of Babu, the artist. A drop out from Fine Arts school he let the home of his spirit shape the artist in him. His childhood spent amidst the bamboo thickets that skirt the Western Ghats region in Kerala in the Indian subcontinent, has moulded the artist in him. Here, the aborigines still live their kind of life in tune with the pulse of Nature. Babu's paintings reveal the soul and spirit of the noble savage happy in his home environs, as part of the flora and fauna, untarnished by civilization. The human in each painting, even when in focus is complete only with insects and birds, plants and fruits that surround. The colours are in sharp contrasts that highlight the mundane and the ethereal. The artist revels in the use of blue as if it refracts the wonder in the eyes of the noble creatures of the wild.
The Little Bird
The artist had sent his works that belong to his first phase to the international forum for group shows. His first venture abroad was for Busan Art Fair, South Korea, 2014. The 'Little Bird' showcases the human element as part of the panorama.
The second venture was hosted by China as part of a Cultural Exchange program in 2014. A team consisting of five Indian artists visited China and each one painted one or two canvasses as gifts for China's archives for the Ministry of Culture. The unassuming Babu was awestruck by the company of his distinguished compatriots, who are artists and academicians from renowned Fine Arts institutions in India.
The third exhibition was again part of a group venture, in Box Heart Gallery, Petsburg in U.S. 2015. His work was selected from a collection of 600 entries from all over the world. The organizers showcased his huge canvass, LULLABY in a prominent place, where the forest dweller is a mother with her child. The relationship between the mother and her child as part of her body is a revelation in a different sense. It brings into sharp contrast the Madonna and her Child, in Christendom and Yasoda and boy Krishna in the Indian context.
The present solo show in the Swedish Gallery is a gift from a fellow artist Dorina Mocan introduced by Nisha, one of Babu's on-line students living in the UK. THE JOURNEY OF A DRAGOFLY opens a new vista, for an authentic expression of Babu's art in all its aspects. The title of the show points to the persona of the artist. During our chat, Babu told me of the three questions he needed to answer. Why the figures he chose mainly comprised of the aborigines; why the color blue dominates and what does the dragonfly that fill his lands signify. His world from his childhood days belonged to the fringes where forest dwellers live in the Western Ghats region. His own brother has married from the community. For the artist, they who live close to Nature are more humane than the civilized. The color blue represents the ethereal aura of the mountains, waters and sky, the home of all living beings on Mother Earth.
The Dragonfly in The Mystique of Waters
"The Dragonfly is my alter ego, in a mystical sense," says Babu. Tropical Kerala in the Indian subcontinent is filled with waves of seasonal visitors like birds and insects like butterflies, dragonflies etc. Folklore is replete with myths associated with them that colour the imagination of childhood. The artist has a special fascination for the dragonfly. Recently a study of Nature scientists narrates how dragonflies from Kerala coast migrate to the shores of South Africa flying above 3500 feet up in the sky, an annual migration that has gone for millennia. That the dragonflies have been there long before humans evolved is a scientific fact now. "Maybe the life force within me must have evolved from a dragonfly, who knows?," muses the artist. Indeed an ethnic variety of astrology in Kerala traces the evolution of a human being born on a star to his/her evolution from a plant, bird or animal.. The artist has infused such native wisdom to his artistic perception which sets fire to his imagination. Indeed he says, "The Dragonfly is the signature of my soul on my canvass." 'The Journey of the Dragonfly' takes us to a paradise far removed from our imagination.
Padma Jayaraj is a freelance writer on the arts.