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Updated: January 2, 2012 18:15 IST

20,000 leagues...

Harshini Vakkalanka
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Finding Nemo and many other fascinating life forms
Finding Nemo and many other fascinating life forms

Malavika's exhibition on marine life has a human touch along with the quirky elements to their intricate forms

One would have probably never pictured even in one's wildest dreams, faces that have an uncanny resemblance to Bappi Lahari's, walking about wearing sunglasses, or a turtle posing as Don Corleone in a traditional portrait pose complete with deceptively calm eyes.

Yet Malavika P.C's “Creature Comforts”, her first exhibition of 22 drawings, are as comforting as marine life gets. She has, very thoughtfully, drawn sea creatures — turtles, squids, shrimps and so on, but has given them a more human touch by adding quirky elements to their intricately drawn forms.

For example, “Oscillatus Equinosae”, shows a green-brown dragon-like structure with a swing attached to the bottom. “Amba & Me” has an alien-like creature in green riding a unicycle. Its antennae act like handlebars for a child version riding a smaller unicycle behind it, in the air.

“Squid Juice” and “Squidink” have squids or similar creatures sipping a drink from a bottle and pushing a car respectively. “The sea creatures in my works are not straight forward, sometimes they are morphs of different creatures. Sea creatures catch my fantasy and make me happy. And I hope that when others view my work, they become happy,” says Malavika, an illustrator and a theatre person. These drawings are an unwitting result of ten years of research in biology. “These creatures have fascinated me since I was young. I have always been drawing and sketching. I like the way these creatures breathe, their complex locomotion, the way they are designed by nature to adapt to their terrains. I'm always curious to know why a turtle's body is the way it is and how it's beautiful functional design is the way of nature.

Malavika loves studying the works of biologists like Ernst Haeckel who is well-known for his illustrations of sea creatures and animals. Her works, in their detailing exude a sort of scientific precision in their fine lines and intricate structures, even when they are coloured. Malavika has used a 0.5 mm nib to arrive at such detailing. “I tried large, flat and thick nibs, but they didn't work for me. I used a fine nib because I felt that the piece demanded it, otherwise I wouldn't be doing justice to these creatures.”Her colouring is not too fantastical, she sticks to a minimal colour palette, usually matching the creatures she draws, that reinforces the feeling.

“Sometimes I have the whole picture in my head, but at other times the image is fuzzy, though all the elements are there. At those times, I do a set of several drawings to arrive at the final image”. “Creature Comforts” will be on view at 1, Shanti Road, Shantinagar, until January 6. For more details, contact 98802 27706 or send an e-mail to

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