The Daniel Connell exhibition of paintings and charcoal drawings of labourers was inaugurated at Spice Fort hotel on Dec 13, 2014 at a function attended by cricketer Ajay Jadeja from Delhi, K.J. Sohan, councillor and Fort Kochi elder, and art aficionado, Diana.
The show is called 'Labour', for the paintings and charcoal drawings are of common folk, the labourers found in and around Fort Kochi. Daniel said, ‘Art is about connecting, connecting people.’ He thanked Selvaraj, one of the many labourers he has depicted in the paintings and drawings decorating the walls of the hotel. He also thanked representatives of the Australian High Commission who came to attend.
K.J. Sohan hailed the second edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB2) for its showcasing of the art and attractions of this area. For 31 years the Carnival in Fort Kochi on New Year’s Day has drawn a wide audience to this 500 year-old city that has seen the rule of three European nations: Portugal, The Netherlands, and Britain. But now India is looking East, a new direction initiated by Prime Minister Modi, and having an Australian artist who is familiar to Cochinites, to exhibit here is not surprising therefore.
Mr Sohan remarked that as we go about our daily business our eyes gaze on labourers, but glaze over. We watch but do not observe, or care to remember these faces. But Daniel does – he noted Achu who operates a wayside eatery and works from 6am to 7pm providing food for local workers and travellers (Rs 10 for breakfast); he was caught in one the pictures by Daniel in KMB1. The artist has brought the common people together, and brought them into the mainstream of art. He thanked Daniel for being a strong force for the solidarity of society. As an aside Mr Sohan said the city has paid for training Achu in culinary arts and provided a stainless steel shell for his thattukada next to the Cochin Aquatic club at the entrance channel of the harbour, next to the Corporation building.
Ajay Jadeja, cricketer of yesteryear and now a commentator seen often on TV, spoke about coming to know Daniel on a visit to Australia. He confessed he is new to art, and Daniel is the only artist he could call a friend. From Daniel he learned the lesson that every human is special and artists like Daniel bring it out in their work. He thanked Daniel for calling on him to be present. It was Daniel’s coming that made Jadeja appreciate art and artists – for his life till now had been spent among his team-mates on the cricketing green. Daniel is special not only for his paintings, but for the people he has touched by his art.
Daniel Connell at the mike with two of his models, Selvaraj left in Sabarimala black & another labourer.
Here are some observations by Daniel Connell from the brochure brought out on the occasion:
Why charcoal as medium – it is accessible, relatively environmentally friendly. Cheap and democratic for everyone can access it. It keeps the enrgy you put it on with. And it looks temporary and unfinished.
Art is following as truly as possible an inner desire to discover something.
Portrait drawing started by accident when I drew a portrait of an old Muslim man, a patriarch of the area, as we sat on a street. And next minute everyone on the street wanted one and I happily obliged and this was the accelerator pedal to know the whole community.
I wanted to underscore the element of time commitment and care, hence the engagement required in making a drawing as accurate a realist rendition as possible.
In these faces … I am not asking them to tell their story ... in this work I am telling of our meeting and what joy and delight and power it had for me.
Art must be personal, otherwise it is design. Love makes the unique in art.
K.J. Sohan, councillor of Fort Kochi, with KumKum
Our congratulations to Daniel Connell on another great series of works; here is a blog post from the first Biennale, two years ago, with a pic of my grandson, Gael, (and Diana) in front of the mural of Justin Alan Magridge, Daniel's friend from South Australia:
If you click on the pic it will unfurl at higher resolution and the anthropological notes accompanying the mural are worth reading.
Dimitri Klein, hotelier, ex-Parisian ad-agency man, now settled in Pondicherry – with KumKum
We salute Daniel Connell on his effort to bridge the gap between peoples, and within societies. May he live a thousand years (through his art!).