This exhibition of artworks in Kerala capital explores the ‘tender’ shades of life

‘Tenderness Goes a Long Long Way’, curated by Radha Gomaty and on till March 2 at Longtime art gallery in Thiruvananthapuram, brings together works in various media by eight artists

As you walk in, American singer and civil rights activist Sam Cooke’s ‘Tenderness’ softly lilts in the background. The soulful track on repeat, the lyrics of which goes ‘Tenderness goes a long long way…’, almost works like a lullaby, setting a tailor-made ambience for the artworks on show at Longtime art gallery in Jawahar Nagar. In fact, the exhibition of paintings by eight artists and in varied media itself borrows its title from the 1963 song from the album ‘3 Great Guys’.

Curated by Radha Gomaty of Kochi-based creative platform EkaRasa, ‘Tenderness Goes a Long Long Way’, which opened on February 17, brings together works in eclectic styles and methods from Madhu Venugopalan, Ranjith Raman, Hima Hariharan, Johns Mathew, Sunil Vallarpadam, Nandan PV, Asha Nandan and Jagesh Edakkad.

A painting by Madhu Venugopalan  
| Photo Credit:
Harikumar J S

Perhaps, the title assumes its best symbolic expression in Jagesh’s series of 13 individual works under the rubric ‘Belongings of My Angel’ that depicts objects and accessories associated with a baby such as cloth cradle, medicine bottles and droppers, body lotions, leg warmers and so on. The evocative works in watercolour are set against shades of brown and sandwiched between glass frames.

Asha’s ‘Cat’ series comprises seven distinctive pieces in acrylic depicting felines. While the single-subject works zoom in on the furry friend in various playful settings, Ranjith’s “mixed media” experiments attempt to blur the borders between the craft of tailoring and art with hand-embroidered and patchwork pieces on cotton. His experimental work ‘Hidden’ employs meticulous hand-embroidery techniques on tissue and cotton.

A work by Ranjith Raman
| Photo Credit:
Harikumar J S

Madhu’s ‘An Antique Piece of Love’ series shifts the focus on flower-strewn wedding beds as a symbol to de-construct the idea of nuptials and the concept of marriage, accomplished through minimal visual language. Johns’ three works on display touch upon the theme of nature and landscape through vivid strokes.

A highlight in the motley collection is an untitled series of 11 works depicting fish by Sunil. With thick and broad strokes, the lustrous paintings lend a three-dimensional effect. It’s as if the scales covering the marine creatures are chiselled on the surface, imbuing a tactile effect for the iridescent artworks.

A painting by Sunil Vallarpadom  
| Photo Credit:
Harikumar J S

Artist Nandan’s self-reflective works hold a mirror to the viewer, wherein he puts himself as the subjects. His ‘Sumo’ series captures the action and intensity of the full-contact East-Asian sport of Sumo wrestling, where we see Nandan pitted against himself in a vein of meta-humour. His more layered pieces such as ‘Last Supper’ and ‘Rebirth’ lend themselves to philosophical introspection. Hima’s works in diptych format, so as to “resemble a book”, takes up “tender” ordinary subjects such as flowers and leaves.

Curator Radha Gomaty
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

Radha says the curation happened at “breakneck speed” owing to the immediate impact the artworks had on her. “I felt that the works were all in some common dimension in a dream that I myself was a part of,” she says, explaining her choice of the title as “an epiphany.” “‘Tenderness Goes a Long Long Way’ was one song we used to play on the gramophone during my childhood days. During my show’s curation, the number popped up in my head out of the blue as if establishing some time-warped connection. I felt it fit perfectly,” she says.

About the selection of the pieces, Radha says “they were like invitations into our vulnerabilities, which put you in a position of tenderness.”

Tenderness Goes a Long Long Way’ will be on at Longtime art gallery, Jawahar Nagar, till March 2. Contact: 9446051323

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