Artist Sadaanandan lends a contemporary twist to Kerala mural art.

In his creations, artist Sadaanandan fuses the intangible line between art and craft, between the ancient Kerala mural art and his contemporary sensibility to create his own mesmeric language. He calls it the classic style of Indian painting.

At first glance, his figurative and mythology-based art with its profusion of curving flowers as well as typical ‘panchavarna' colours might appear to have a strong stamp of Kerala mural art, but a close look reveals subtle differences such as the varied texturing and shading of colours, the three dimensional background and the ‘inward looking' blissful faces of the figures.

Although largely mythology-based, Sadaanandan has created a figurative imagery which is as distinct as the Ravi Varma figures. There is a sense of mysticism in all the canvases, be it the Apsara series, Krishna as Venugopal, Gandharvas, Panchamukha Gayatri on a yellow shaded lotus or just a space filled with lotuses.

Finely etched scenes

In the 6ft by 4ft Gayatri, the finely etched scenes from the Ramayana are almost reminiscent of fine screen printing. In the huge frame of Krishna as Venugopal (10ft by 6ft frame), a banyan tree stands against a shaded background filled with exotic flowers and beautiful birds. The influence of Ajanta art can be seen in the delicate drapery of the figures as well as in the jewellery. Krishna's posture might remind one of the Kerala mural art but the drapery is surely Ajanta-inspired and the background leaps out harmoniously with a profusion of flowers and birds.

Says the artist, “My figures are infused with movement as opposed to Indian classical painting in which figures are gravity-oriented and static.” So we have Hanuman jumping or an apsara holding ‘veena' in her hand and showing her back to the viewer, a concept never featured in Kerala mural art form. Also, just lotuses do not figure in the Kerala mural language. The artist's lotus series is enchanting with the flowers in lyrical blue, pink and white.

A special exhibition of Sadaanandan's paintings titled ‘Classical Shades' is on view at Prakrit Art Gallery, 102, Greenways Road Extension, (Next to State Bank of Travancore) R.A. Puram, till August 7.