Kerala-born TK Hareendran’s canvases at Art Konsult gallery unconsciously place the viewer in the shoes of a researcher. The task is simple: to decipher the meaning of his text-laden paintings in an exhibition titled “Shore of Alphabets”. The text appears similar to Egyptian hieroglyphs that utilised pictorial writing, full of human and animal figures, inscribed on pottery vessels and coffins hidden in tombs. The ancient Egyptians called hieroglyphs as medu netjer (god’s words); likewise, Hareendran sprinkles images of an ox, fish, crab, fly and a man meditating on small panels on an entire wall, interspersing them with the letters of Tamil, English and Hindi.
Language becomes the starting point of the show. Hareendran says, “The Indus Valley script was derived from what people saw and they gave it a symbolic form, be it the moon, hills or birds. These elements were converted into a language, and slowly became expressions for openness, love, freedom or identity without borders.”
Returning with a solo after a long hiatus since his exhibition “Path” at Delhi’s Niv Art Centre in 2010, the seashore is another inspiration for the artist. It’s a source of sudden happiness or destruction. Among his 100 works on display, all named as the title of the show, is a group of black-and-white photographs shot in Trivandrum and Kochi. There are boats hugging the sand carpet near the sea and rivers, where broken idols are left unattended. An acrylic-on-canvas is inspired by the same thought, with an image of a face looking at the shore blankly. “Shore is happiness, isn’t it? There is no border at the horizon and one can feel a certain kind of flying effect, much like an albatross, when standing there,” says Hareendran, who has served as a founding member of Indian Radical Sculptors Association and also worked with the Cholamandal Artists’ Village near Chennai.
Lost dreams and longing come to the surface as a woman’s silhouette stands on the seaside. A fish rests at her feet, as the grey water recedes. “When we are at the shore, we remember about the loss of a childhood dream, or of a friend or a lover. Everyone has this longing,” he says. Hareendran feels that certain elements of pain flare up within the body, when one witnesses the sun setting on the horizon and waves hitting the shore.