The collection of 22 paintings in watercolours, acrylic and oil on exhibit at YMCA Library Hall are not meant to be given a mere glance. They are meant to be read into and pondered upon. For these paintings are not just images; they express the artist’s line of thoughts. A journalist, poet and artist, Saratchandralal’s ‘Flaming Leaf’ is an assortment of images from his mind’s eye over the years.
The artist terms his works, poems in paint. 'Painting is a cathartic experience for me. Most of my paintings were done when I was in a troubled state of mind. After all didn’t T.S. Elliot say, ‘Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion.’ It’s the same for me, but instead of the pen, I have chosen the brush as my medium of escape this time,' says the artist.
Most of his frames, be it ‘Have you ever remembered me?’, which zooms in on a couple facing each other on a deserted street set against a faded cityscape, or ‘Enchanting rain’, which depicts a couple sharing an umbrella under the pouring rain, seem to focus on couples. Says Saratchandralal: 'I don’t think it was a conscious effort. Most of my works are based on images which have struck my mind; like when I saw a couples relaxing at the Museum grounds and it was translated into ‘Siesta.’'
The beach, a favourite haunt of the artist, is a regular feature in his paintings too. If ‘What a beautiful earth’ depicts tourists standing in line to enter a tourist boat, ‘Vigil over waves’, shows a crow standing guard over a garbage strewn deserted beach, and ‘Sea blue’ has a couple walking down a pathway by the beach.
Each of his frames is direct, conveying the message through figures and details; the titles for his images revealing the thought behind each frame. His ‘Someone keeps an eye’, which shows a couple walking and a man watching from the shadow or his ‘A shore beyond’ which depicts a man looking forlornly by the sea, are self explanatory.
The self-taught artist, who honed his skills under the guidance of mural artist G. Azhikode, has a few poignant paintings in his collection too. ‘Searching for the door’ is one such work. It has rows of buildings with doors and men standing in front of them wondering which door to choose. ‘All alone’ which shows a man crouched, a crowd around him, strikes a chord in your heart as does an untitled work in oil which shows a group of people staring at a man who is seated by himself on a wall.
An image that does not really gel well with the exhibition is perhaps that featuring actor Lakshmi Rai. 'A friend of mine is a fan of the actor’s. I did it for him and felt it came out well. I plan to do a series of paintings focussing on a particular actor soon.'
‘Flaming Leaf’, is on exhibit until January 9.