Krishnan V.R. and Roy K. John brought new interpretations to traditional Kerala murals

The recent exhibition of Kerala murals, “Lines and colours” by Roy K. John and Krishnan V.R. showcased both traditional murals as well as a personal reinterpretations of the traditional art. Krishnan V.R.’s focus was on the traditional murals, which, he says, were mostly found in temples and palaces.The intricate murals are based on themes and stories from Indian mythology. “Most of the images are based on dhyana shlokas or prayer songs of different Indian Gods or on tales like the Krishna Leela. The figures are crowded and ornamental,” explains Krishnan.

One of the highlights of the paintings, he says, is that they are “panchavarna” paintings — this means that they predominantly use only five colours: green, red, yellow, black and white and their combination. “I have also applied this technique on Christian subjects and this series is a combination of the Kerala mural style on themes from Chirstian mythology. Since there are so many murals on Hindu mythology, I wanted to see how I can include other subjects in this style,” he adds.

Roy K. John interprets the traditional mural to create imaginative landscapes, of lotus ponds or figures representing the morning energy. He also paints popular Biblical icons like the Last Supper or the Gethsemen. “This is a jump from the Hindu mythological imagination,” he says. The exhibition was recently on view at the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath.