Artist George Fernandez opens gallery at his institute in Thiruvananthapuram

Flora Art Gallery in Kerala capital is exhibiting works by artists George and Krishna Kumar

Artist George Fernandez from Thiruvananthapuram has ushered in the New Year with a tribute to art. The art instructor opened an art gallery at his Flora Institute of Arts and Crafts at Oottukuzhy in Kerala capital. “The gallery, which a part of my residence, comprises two sections. I stay by myself here and the old house has lots of space that was not being used. Hence I wanted to convert that into an art gallery,” he says.

Presently, Flora Art Gallery is exhibiting works by himself and his artist-friend Krishna Kumar. Over 55 works in acrylic are part of the exhibition that features a mixed theme. Apart from a number of abstract works, there are nature paintings and works on spiritual and mythological figures such as Gautama Buddha, Lord Krishna, Lord Ganesha, Mary and Jesus. There are also a few paintings done in the Japanese style like the one on a lotus. “My nature paintings are a continuation of an exhibition series on the theme of pollution of nature I had held last year,” says George.

One of the works depicts cranes flying through a miasma of ashen, acrid smoke, while three paintings on pollution of water call attention to contamination of water sources and the need to conserve water bodies. The ‘Rajasthani paintings’ provide sketches of folk life as seen in the north-western State.

Some of Krishna Kumar’s “semi-abstract” nature paintings provide a close-up of vignettes of nature, perhaps best represented in the ‘leaf’ paintings on display. These are in marked and meditative contrast to his landscape works. Another one in the nature series is a vivid close-up of a multi-hued butterfly wing. Amidst the works on nature is a large portrait of Gautama Buddha in a meditative trance.

A painting in Japanese style

The art gallery occupies two rooms of his almost 75-year-old, single-storied residence, Eden, that offers a cool, verdant retreat. A variety of flora, namely, ferns, begonias, anthurium and orchid make up the leafy porch, while the four white-painted walls of the main hall of George’s abode showcase a collection of art and craft works done since 1989.

George recently organised an online exhibition of his hand-made floral artworks, which was on till Christmas. “Details and photographs of works, 30 in total, were posted on my Facebook page. It chiefly featured works on flowers and floral arrangements, like artistically designed bouquets,” he points out. Craftworks on display included hand-made replicas of Poinsettias, roses, anthurium, lilies and orchids.

Floral art by George Fernandez

George says he closely “studied” real-life flora for his works. “The floral works were fashioned out of satin, velvet and polyester. These are starched and carefully cut to the required shapes and sizes and glued together,” he explains.

Having organised numerous solo exhibitions before, George says conducting an online exhibition was a novel experience for him. “I feel it was not so easy for art lovers here to accept such an arrangement. But given the pandemic, the set-up was handy,” the artist says, adding that he spent the lockdown period mostly experimenting with new styles and techniques on flower art.

A painting by George Fernandez

George, who has been teaching arts and craft since 1989, says he paused his classes at the institute since the lockdown came into effect, while later shifting to online tutorials via video-conferencing app Zoom. “There has been about seven students, all Malayalis, and mostly from places like Dubai and the United Kingdom. So that way, it had a wider reach. I feel it it is a good arrangement. I now take four sessions a week,” he says.

Flora Art Gallery was inaugurated by littérateur George Onakkoor.

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