The same time that women's wall happened, 30 artists gathered outside the Museum in Thiruvananthapuram to paint pictures that to some meant Nangeli, and to others, the various representations of what a woman could be.

Another womens wall this one filled with art 30 women paint renaissance in Kerala
news Art Tuesday, January 01, 2019 - 19:37

‘Chitramathil’, the board said: A wall of paintings. The same day that a wall of women was being formed across Kerala, the Chitramathil got made in a small corner of the capital city Thiruvananthapuram. Thirty women had gathered there to make paintings on the theme of renaissance – the same reason that got lakhs of women to come out on the road and stand shoulder to shoulder on New Year's Day.

The Museum road in Thiruvananthapuram was crowding slowly by 3 pm, an hour before the much anticipated Vanitha Mathil, called by the government, was to begin. It's on the other side of the road that a group of artists took out their colours and began painting pictures of renaissance that to some meant Nangeli (the woman, who, according to myth, cut off her breasts to protest the breast tax of ancient times), and to others meant various representations of what a woman could be. They all came together from different parts of the state on the invitation of the Kerala Lalithakala Academy.

One of the Nangeli paintings

"We were asked to paint pictures of women affected by the many differences of caste, religion and colour, back in the past, and how they overcame it," says Sabitha who comes from Kannur. Her painting shows black and white on two sides of the canvas, with the picture of a woman who has turned her back, in the middle. All that's visible of the woman is her long braided hair, which on one side is full of cactus thorns and the other side is full of flowers. "The thorns that are thrown at her, and the flowers of her soft side," Sabitha says vaguely as she dips her brush on the palette and loses herself in the painting.


Next to Sabitha is a woman and her child, Ashwathy and Advaitha. The little girl is not painting but she is curious to know what the women are creating. The mother says that it is a protest against the labelling of menstruation as something impure. "This is a land with a history of women like Nangeli. It is that the society is attacking. And we should stand together to protect the values of renaissance that leaders of our land had fought for," Ashwathy says.


Sreeja stands at the end of the line giving the final touches to her painting of a woman whose uterus glows in the otherwise dark body. "When the Supreme Court verdict allowed entry of women of all ages into Sabarimala, the biggest problem raised by those who opposed, was that menstruating women are impure. I don't believe that. Your uterus is what created the new generation. It should be the epitome of purity. I am also happy that artists are represented in this manner," says Sreeja who is also executive member of the Lalithakala Academy.


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