Kerala artist exploring art for social upliftment
The might of art is not something that can be gauged easily. However, it can be felt and understood once we analyse the depth of its impact on society. National award winner Benoy Varghese is one such artist who finds fulfillment from using art as a tool for social upliftment. His NGO ‘Kekkeyellam Foundation’ has organized a painting exhibition in New Delhi to aid flood affected residents of Kerala to get back on their feet. The event was supposed to take place in November last year but was delayed due to financial reasons. Varghese, however, doesn’t believe that the delay in the project has in any way affected its significance as there are still many in Kerala who couldn’t return to normalcy post the floods.
The Green line fund raising show, which is on till April 21, is supported by Champa tree gallery. One of the highlights of the exhibition is the participation of over a hundred artists from all over India, with the likes of Sandeep Biswas, Dileep Sarma, T.V Santhosh and Raja More. “All these artistes willingly donated their paintings as soon as I pitched in my idea to them. Nobody has charged even a single pie for this, some artists even donated more than two paintings,” said Varghese who moved to Delhi in the 90s to support his dreams.
‘Kekkeyellam Foundation’ intends to unearth various indigenous art forms and talents that can be found across various parts of India. “A country like India, which has diverse cultures and languages, should have a platform to market art forms such as Theyyam of Northern Kerala. Such practices are very much prevalent in countries like Indonesia,” said Varghese. He also adds that his experience in travelling to other countries as an artist and getting to know other cultures has broadened his perspective. He also adds that the preservation and celebration of local art forms such as Theyyam are very much essential to take our culture forward.
Benoy Varghese, after graduating from Chennai, moved to Ahmedabad and later to Delhi, where he has been living and pursuing his career. Over the years, he has been part of many exhibitions worldwide and has organized many such events in Canada and Bangladesh. In Delhi he has organized community art workshops for underprivileged children and women. He is also optimistic about organizing an international art festival in northern Kerala, where the artists from around the world will get to stay with the locals as guests and get a flavor of the local culture and cuisine. “If it works out, it will give a boost to the tourism sector in north Kerala,” Varghese opined.