The works of Reji Arackal are an artist's reaction against exploitation of nature.
Down-to-earth: Reji Arackal.
As a painter hailing from a remote village of Wayanad, Reji Arackal draws inspiration from nature. The influence of the agrarian culture is evident in his works. Arackal reacts to the pollution and the dissolution of the agrarian culture in Kerala and he responds with his brush; the result is his amazing paintings, which he prefers to call ``devotional signs."
"My paintings are signs of protest. As a person born and brought up in Wayanad, I cannot paint or react otherwise when nature is incessantly exploited in some way or the other," says Reji, a graduate in fine arts. He depicts a state when all symbols of human values (`devotions' for him) are lost and man moves away from a pleasant space to a cruel and brutal world. `Clouds with unconscious mind' (oil on canvas), which portrays a distorted landscape, unnatural clouds and a gigantic man with a lion, portrays this tormented world.
`Devotional signs' (mixed media on paper) evokes nostalgia. It draws the viewer deep into his history. Icons of Mohanjedaro and Harappa are deftly incorporated in this work as classic symbols to denote the vanishing signs of our agrarian heritage. Images of a fertile land and infertile clouds throw light on man's exploitation of nature and how he has distanced himself from nature, which the painter views as the mother of all creation.
Protest and enlightenment
The basic rhythm of these paintings is of protest and enlightenment. Man's alienation from nature has been portrayed through surrealism. `Bleeding Spade' (oil on canvas) is one such painting that draws the viewers' attention to the exploitation of the earth. The 41 works, including a few graphics, that were exhibited at the Kerala Lalitha Kala Akademi in Thrissur, is an attempt to warn the public of the impending danger on account of environmental degradation. For Reji, painting is an introspection and aesthetic outlet to find a way to protect the earth.
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