Tom Vattakuzhy's 'Death of Gandhi II' to be on display at India Art Fair

Tom Vattakuzhy. Photo: Manorama

Renowned Keralite artist Tom Vattakuzhy's painting titled 'Death of Gandhi II' will be among the major works on display at the India Art Fair, which opens in Delhi on Thursday (February 9).

'Death of Gandhi II', an oil on canvas painting is a re-imagination and enlargement, in both scale and scope, of a gouache on paper work by Vattakuzhy in 2019.

Aicon Contemporary, a prominent New York-based gallery, is presenting Vattakuzhy’s work at the India Art Fair which will be on till February 12.

The original work gained immense fame, especially after it was featured on the cover of the Kerala State Budget 2020-21 presented by the then Finance Minister T M Thomas Isaac.

The painting, which assumed epic stature with the intensity of its style and theme, was shared over a million times on social media.

'Death of Gandhi II' is an extraordinary example of Vattakuzhy’s commitment to encapsulating collective memory, even a traumatic one, as he believes that is key to viewing contemporary events, according to a pre-event statement by Aicon Contemporary.

Eminent art critic Uma Nair has drawn parallels between Vattakuzhy's painting and Italian legend Michelangelo’s 'Pieta'. “Pieta and pathos: Vattakuzhy is also a surreal master; he weaves surrealism into the realist idiom as he surrounds the dead Gandhi by angst-ridden mourners. In more ways than one, it has the mood and pathos of Michelangelo’s Pieta. Since its creation in 1499, Michelangelo’s Pieta has inspired emotion, faith, and imitation through its elegant depiction of the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ. We could also reflect upon the way Vattakuzhy creates a modernist mood in the way he paints the faces of the people around.... He considers the artist a creator of originality and feels sometimes even in the most tragic circumstances the politics of hope and hopelessness both see the light of day,” Nair writes.

Vattakuzhy, 56, is a classicist, a figurative painter, a printmaker and an illustrator who received a BFA from Visva Bharati, Shantiniketan, and an MFA from MS University of Baroda. He lives and works in his native Muvattupuzha, Kerala. His carefully rendered paintings, rich with light and subdued tones, are nestled between the real and the surreal.

At the India Art Fair, Vattakuzhy's work will be accompanied by art by Gigi Scaria, G R Iranna, Shobha Broota, Arunkumar H G and Maya Varadaraj, among others.

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