C. F. John, one of southern India’s promising artists, is an ardent nature lover. His native state of Kerala and its lovely landscapes have enriched the artist’s visual angle. Apart from being an artist, he is also a social activist; he has lived and among the tribal people. The artist finds his inspiration from those who are close to nature.
Becoming an artist was a long cherished dream for him. He was obsessed with nature since his childhood, gazing at the twinkling stars at night, going fishing after midnight appealed to his artistic sensibility. Being with nature gave him a solace. For him nature was always the driving force of energy, an energy that he had experienced in the lap of nature.
He seeks to define the relationship of art with time and tries to find out whether or not art is bound by the present? John’s works have several pathways for longer journeys, not essentially visual but physical, belonging to different times, spaces and eras, all at once, according to the viewer’s preparedness.
In one of his projects titled ‘Walls of Memories’ he collaborated with fellow artist T. M. Aziz and dancer Tripura Kashyap. This project was centered around two dried up wells at Visthar on the outskirts of the city near Narayana pura village, Bangalore
According the artist, an unused car can be dismantled and sold as spare parts, a ruined building can be demolished, but what do we do with a dry well? Is it an empty space to be filled or a space filled with memories?
“My works are contextual but not topical,” he says. His work has a freshness that is not constrained by academic intrusions. John’s approach to his work is devoid of canonistic estrangements and is derived from a thought process based on his socio culture activist tendencies –refined and sensitively filtered down to basics. This approach has created a body of works that seeks an imagery that is positively individualistic.
He believes in celebrating the uniqueness of the materials he uses to paint. The works by John are broadly under two titles: “Fibres of Hope” and “Fragile Memories. In these works the material is an integral part of art. The material does not efface itself in being subservient to mere usefulness in making art. The art sets forth the material and the material sets forth the art, as the temple sculpture sets forth the stone and the stone, the sculpture. “Fragile Memories” is based on reflections and experiences of fibres, more specifically reflections on Indian national flag.
Since 1986 C. F. John has been organizing Art workshops and exhibitions on specific themes such as ‘the violence of modern-day living’, the worlds views of indigenous communities,’ celebration of cultural pluralism,’
The recent series of paintings C. F .John working on is titled ‘Four Corners of a Line’.
The paintings from ‘Four Corners of a Line’ focus on the negotiation and balancing we make with gravity and speed. This negotiation and balancing is a metaphor for human relations, connecting one another and with the earth. In this balancing act or connectedness we experience and celebrate beauty, love, understanding and freedom. This is the balance of planes, of geometrical lines and shapes, as well as of the rational and emotional in human existence. Here the emotions that are dynamic also meet with its stillness / silence.
Some of his major exhibits include a solo show at Alliance Francaise, Bangalore (1991); ‘Celebrating Cultural Pluralities, workshop and exhibition of spiral painting, Ravindrakalakshetra, Bangalore (1993); ‘From the Nether, the ceaseless Dance,’ collective works, Kochi, Kozhikode and Kunnur (1993); Silence of Furies and Sorrows, workshop and exhibition of installations, Venkatappa Gallery, Bangalore (1995); solo Show in Mainz and Saarbrucken, Germany (1997). Apart from this he had his shows with other artists in France and London too. He also had his shows in Indian Habitat Center as well as Siri Fort Auditorium, Delhi.
- Initiations in Art under Jyothi Sahi at Silvepura, Bangalore
- Disciple of Anthony Devasy of Kalakendra, ThrissurExhibitions
- 2005 ‘Landscape Parables’, Malabar…
Selected Solo Exhibitions
- 2005 ‘Landscape Parables’, Malabar House, Kochi
- 1997 Gallery Sumukha, Bangalore
- 1997 Mainz and Saarbrucken, Germany
- 1991 Alliance Francaise, BangaloreSelected Group Exhibitions
- 2011 ‘Cross Currents’, Art Positive, New Delhi
- 2010 ‘Roots in the Contemporary’, presented by Mahua Art Gallery, Bangalore at Kamalnayan Bajaj Art Gallery, Mumbai
- 2010 ‘Tales of Silence’, Art Alive Gallery, New Delhi
- 2009 ‘The Open Cage’, Galerie Sara Arakkal, Bangalore
- 2009 ‘Think Small’, Art Alive Gallery, New Delhi
- 2009 ‘The Still Point in a Turning World’, Galerie Métanoïa, Paris
- 2009 ‘The Root of Everything’, Gallery Memento, Bangalore
- 2008 ‘Deeper Than Skin’, DAIRA Centre for Arts and Culture, Hyderabad
- 2008 ‘Metropolis and the Self’, Art Alive, New Delhi
- 2008 ‘In Small Format’, Gallery Kolkata, Kolkata
- 2008 ‘Young Contemporary India’, Gallery Kolkata, Kolkata
- 2007 ‘Colors of Art’, An Exhibition of Indian Contemporary Art, Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai
- 2007 ‘Emerging India’, Henry Moore Gallery, Royal College of Art, London
- 2007 ‘Four Artists’, Shrishti Art Gallery, Hyderabad
- 2007 ‘In the Fore’, Noble Sage Art Gallery, London
- 2006 ‘A Compensation for What Has Been Lost’, Travancore Art Gallery, New Delhi
- 2006 ‘Titled – Untitled’, ARTrium, Singapore, organized by National Arts Council, Singapore and Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi
- 2006 ‘Indian Contemporary Art’, Indes Media, Paris
- 2006 ‘14 Bangalore Artists’, Hues Art Gallery, Chennai
- 2005-06 Vinnyasa Premier Art Gallery, Chennai
- 2005-06 ‘Mapping the South’, New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai
- 2005-06 ‘Metrospective: Visual Representations of Metro Sexuality’, Mumbai, New Delhi
- 2005 ‘100 contemporary Indian Artists’, Gallery Art Resource Trust, Mumbai
- 2005 ‘Open Eyed Dreams’, Durbar Hall, Kochi
- 2005 ‘Landscape Parables’, Three Man Show, Anant Art Gallery, New Delhi
- 2003 Inaugural show, Gallery Sara Arakkal, Bangalore
- 2003 ‘The Art on Paper Fair’, Stand 32, The Royal College of Art, London
- 2002 ‘The Dance of the Indian Brush’, Leboye Gallery, Kemang, Jakarta
- 2000 ‘Fragile Memories’, Bangalore
- 2000 ‘Eye of the South’, Mumbai and Bangalore
- 2000 ‘The Eternal Embrace’, Dubai
- 2000 ‘Temples of the Mind’, Three Man Show, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi
- 1999 Kashi Art Café, KochiJoint Exhibitions
- 2008 ‘Still.Silent’, with T M Azis at Alliance Francaise, New Delhi
- 2003 ‘Water lines’, India Habitat Center, New Delhi
- 2002 ‘Temples of the Mind – II’, Arpana’s Gallery, New Delhi, BangaloreParticipations
- 2011 ‘50.25.10’, presented by Artchutney at The Taj Corridor, The Taj West End, Bangalore
- 2004 Annual Show, Gallery Sara Arakkal, Bangalore
- 2002 10th Asian Art Biennale, Bangaladesh Shilpakala Academy
- 2002 8th European Patch Work Meeting, France
- 2001 10th Triennale International, National Academy of Art, India
- 1999,98 ‘Harmony Show’, Nehru Centre, MumbaiCollaborative Works
- 2003 ‘Quilted’, Prop Specific Installation, Dance and Photography, Gallery Sumukha, Bangalore
- 2003 ‘Walls of Memories’, An art event of Unresolved Edges’, Site Specific Installations, Dance and Photography in and around an open well
- 1999 ‘Paper Trails’, Exhibition on Paper as Material, Bangalore
- 1998 ‘Celebrating Mangroves’, Earth Works and Installations at the Sea Shore, Trivandrum
- 1998 ‘Territory – An Art Event’, Out Door Installations and Performance, Bangalore
- 1996 ‘A Quest for Celebration and Question on Waste’, Exhibition of Outdoor Installations and Earth Works, Thiruvalla
- 1995 ‘Silence of Furies and Sorrows’, Art Event with Installations and Performance, Venkatappa Gallery, Bangalore
- 1993 ‘From the Nether, The Ceaseless Dance’, Collective Works, Kochi, Kozhikode and Kannur
- 1993 ‘Celebrating Cultural Pluralities’, Exhibition of Spiral Painting, Ravindra Kalakshetra, Bangalore
Honours and Awards
- 2005 Arad International Biennale of Art, Romania
- 2002 Honorable Mention, 10th Asian Art Biennale Bangladesh
- 2000 Honorable Mention, 42nd National Exhibition of Art, Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi