Nandan Pillai tells a simple tale through 12 paintings

A strange yet simple tale, knitted together with the purpose of conveying a message dedicated to differently abled children, is told through 12 paintings by artist Nandan Pillai.

They are arranged in a specific order and the artist has intentionally stayed away from the abstract style.

The exhibition of paintings, being held at the Levee Hall, was inaugurated by the head of the ruling family of erstwhile Travancore Utradom Tirunal Marthanda Varma on Friday.

The exhibition will continue till July 7. The artist will donate 40 per cent of all proceeds of sold paintings for training counsellors and teachers for the differently-abled.

Mr. Pillai’s graphic story has two familiar characters — that of Goddess Parvathi and the child Lord Ganesha. The legend of how Ganesha got his elephant head goes thus: Parvathi told Ganesha not to let anyone in before she went in for a bath.

Diligently following her orders, the child god staunchly refused entry to Lord Siva, who had come to visit Parvathi. Blinded by rage, Siva cut off Ganesha’s head, only to invite Parvathi’s wrath.

Realising his grave mistake, Siva immediately ordered his servants to bring the head of the first sleeping animal they find. It was an elephant they found first and its head was used to replace the child’s head.

In his work, the artist has considered another angle to the story — whatever happened to the body of the unfortunate elephant and the separated head of the child. He tugged at this unexplored strand of the legend and created a character called ‘Gajaangan’ — a child with an elephant’s body and a human head — which comes to Parvathi in her dreams.

“They are often sympathised with but that is not what they need. Differently abled children need to be able to feel like they are capable and not discouraged,” said the artist. He points to two of his paintings that best illustrates this: the first shows Gajaangan enviously peering over the shoulder of Ganesha watching him write and draw.

The dejected child with the elephant body is coaxed by Parvathi to try another method, of using his mouth to draw, in the next painting.

As a continuation of the campaign, a dance drama on the same theme will be held at Thrissur on August 31 by the Saalabhanjika Studio for Arts and Performance.