Young volunteers lend artful face to Biennale Foundation office

Dated: December 18, 2014

Kochi, Dec 18: The Kochi Biennale Foundation (KBF) has conjured up a longish, multi-hued graffiti across its boundary wall, due, in large part, to a youngsters’ movement dedicated to developing and fostering a visual aesthetics among people.

No less than 25 painters worked in batches for more than five days and nights, taking turns to complete the fresco that has turned the face of the KBF office itself into a work of collective art.

Done primarily in shades of red, blue, yellow, and black, the 30-metre work against the white backdrop of the KBF’s compound wall in Fort Kochi depicts a performance procession with a line-up of human silhouettes, transforming and personifying them as carriers of a grand art movement that has dawned upon this ancient city in coastal Kerala ever since the preparations for the first biennale had begun in 2012-13.

“The idea is to also remind the viewer of the momentousness of India’s first biennale even as we have now creditably got into the second,” says artist P. S. Jalaja of RAY (Radiant Artists Yield), which largely comprises alumni and students of the hoary RLV College of Fine Arts in suburban Tripunithura.

Launched in 2007, the artists’ group began working for KMB’14 in its run-up by exhibiting street art around locations in Fort Kochi. Twenty-three-year-old sculptor Jasinther Rockfeller of RAY recalls: “We did wall paintings in continuation of our series called ‘Working-class Heroes’. It portrays images of people such as head-load workers, sweepers, auto-rickshaw drivers, tailors, masons.... their activities and life in general.” For KMB’14, RAY volunteers began work since mid-November.

KBF was impressed with the fresh burst of graffiti in its vicinity, and began looking forward to a stronger association with RAY. “I liked their concept,” notes KBF secretary Riyas Komu. “Today, their painting on the office fence has come out pretty well. It’s striking for the passerby.”

The work merits some embellishments and will be completed shortly, says Jalaja, a native of Keezhillam near Perumbavur in Ernakulam district. Her work was a major hit at the first KMB. “We have stuck to two points: the work has to be colourful, it has to show the community spirit. We will now be touching it up.”

RAY’s Prince Dinakar says, “It is, in fact, a piecing together of ideas from within our team,” while artist Suraja K. S. Adds, “it was exciting to work together for the biennale this way.”

The graffiti has already some quirky text. For instance, it runs the text “Again All Odds?” apparently as an indication of the continuing struggles vis-a-vis KMB’14 after KBF had brought out a book titled ‘Against All Odds’ that detailed how it braved difficulties in organising the country’s first biennale two years ago.

Some of RAY’s members are also part of other endeavours of KMB’14. Jaya P. S. is associated with a Students’ Biennale which is integral to the ongoing festival that features over 100 works by 94 artists from 30 countries. “It is gratifying to lend your services to the next generation of artists,” adds Jaya, a younger sibling of Jalaja.




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