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Updated: February 16, 2011 18:20 IST

CN’s offbeat sketches

Shilpa Nair Anand
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Dual tone One of CN's works. Photo: Thulasi Kakkat
The Hindu Dual tone One of CN's works. Photo: Thulasi Kakkat

C.N. Karunakaran's black and white sketches at Orthic Creative Centre are a must-see

If you step into Orthic Creative Centre expecting to see signature C. N. Karunakaran's works, you are in for a surprise of gigantic proportions. It would appear that you have stepped into a black and white world of CN.

The septuagenarian artist retains his signature style of drawing but these are sketches, ink on hand-made paper.

Artist T. Kaladharan says, “We have been telling CN to do sketches; some of these are sketches are from his note books. These are collector's items just for that reason.” The 41 sketches bear the CN stamp, only these are sans colour. This is probably a first in a ‘career' spanning almost four decades that CN has not used colours, for a show at least. The beautiful stories are there, complete with the feminine forms, flora and fauna, and the artist too.

As sketches are wont to be, these are comparatively diminutive when compared to the (traditional) dimensions of a CN painting. Sketching on handmade paper gives the sketches a texture, on any other surface the sketches would lose body and thus appear flat. Traditionally in a typical CN painting every inch of the canvas is filled, however in some of the sketches in this collection, there is a lot of space.

Even the sketches are intrinsically different; if some have been filled out, others just have the basic sketch. In some of the works, there are only figures (sometimes one) and a couple of other elements of flora and fauna.

The artist manipulates the white of the surface and the black of the medium (ink) to highlight each element of a sketch. CN, who turned seventy last year, still retains an eye for detail (and detailing) and a firm hand. He does not miss the minutiae; every tiny detail has been etched or rather sketched.

Neither are the lines shaky nor are there many errors. Although most of the sketches bear the CN signature in terms of style, there are a couple of sketches that are distinctly different. The forms are, in fact, just the opposite of what CN usually paints. They are more rounded, generally. The show is definitely worth a see!

The show concludes on February 20.

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