Akkitham Narayanan says that his works are an exploration of the unknown
Akkitham Narayanan does not title any of his paintings. He points to the most recent of his works; a giant canvas covered in geometric patterns of green, black and red, and says: “I don’t believe in the concept of naming my works. What is there to name?” The work is a harmony of colours, in Akkitham’s own words, “an acrobatic expression of his thought”. Surrounded by the curious assembly of squares, triangles and rectangles at the Nanappa Art Gallery, Akkitham says it is the mystery that the painting creates that is more important. An exhibition of his works is on, a rare solo after a gap of about 20 years.
The artist who lives and works in Paris has never once felt the need to deviate from his signature style. “For over 35 years now, I have been doing this,” he says. “But there have been changes in my work. Not in the sense of form, but subtle ones in the use of colours, maybe. I am always looking for something I don’t know yet through my work. I am seeking the unknown.” It is not premeditated. “These patterns happen on the canvas. If something else happens, then may be,” he breaks mid sentence. Figurative paintings ceased to draw him in, as he felt the moment the impression was recreated, the process was over. “There is nothing more to gain from the work. As far as I am concerned, it is the mystery that always lives.”
The oldest of his works in the exhibition was done in the late 90s. Just as with style, Akkitham rarely uses any medium other than oil. As an artist, he believes inspiration is universal though he has gained in terms of experience from both the worlds—India and France. He visits India often and sometimes, feels inspired by the vividness that is unique to the country. Having spent a large share of his working life in France, Akkitham feels art in France has gone through a lot of change, especially in the way colours are employed. Earlier, most French paintings sported gloomy shades, “perhaps, a reflection of the weather and the landscape,” Akkitham observes. Towards the 50s and 60s, however, their palettes brightened up. In the 21st century, art speaks a universal language. “If you look at the biennale, you can see the real cross section of the world of art,” he says.
The best thing about the biennale is that it takes art above regional, linguistic and religious differences, he says. So does the biennale democratise art? “I would say it takes the common man several notches higher to reach its level,” he says.
A small group of artists, including seniors such as M.V. Devan, Namboothiri, and C.N. Karunakaran, were present at the inauguration of Akkitham’s show, which will be on till December 30.