They say you are bound to run into a Malayali wherever in the world you go, and this versatility extends to the delicate whorls of the Malayalam script too, says calligraphy artist Narayanan Bhattathiri.
Indicating a Malayalam phrase written with an Arabic font, he makes his case on the basis of the malleability of the script.
“I’ve done Malayalam in Mandarin style as well and, in fact, I don’t think there is any other language that can be tweaked this way,” says the artist, mulling over the thought.
An exhibition by Mr. Bhattathiri titled ‘Ka Kha Ga Gha’ was inaugurated at the Alliance Francaise de Trivandrum on Monday.
This is only the second time he is conducting an exhibition, the first being at Suryakanthi art gallery in December last coinciding with the International Film Festival of Kerala.
“World cinema was being screened in theatres all around us but we got plenty of entertainment from just studying the reactions of those who came to the exhibition,” Sundar Ramanathaiyer, one of the curators, says. Mr. Bhattathiri, too, admits how gratifying it was to see such sharp responses to his doodles, except, it will not be fair to term them so, as they are far more than just lazy sketches scrawled on paper.
Be it from a child or a typeface designer whose mind is attuned to graphics, these drawings never fail to elicit a reaction.
Each word or phrase and how it has been interpreted calligraphically is carefully thought out.
Other graphic designers have tended to drift to other modes of art, but Mr. Bhattathiri has managed to stay true to Malayalam calligraphy. He has contributed to four periodicals, including ‘Kala Kaumudi’ and ‘Malayalam,’ but unlike cartoonists, those in his field rarely get credit for how skilfully they manipulate letters.
The unsigned works have now garnered much attention, as visitors to the previous exhibition recognised certain graphics from the magazines and were glad to be finally acquainted with their master.
With every kind of word, the artist has managed to send out a blanket appeal to the senses through the two-dimensional, double-hued medium of calligraphy. Mr. Bhattathiri will conduct a workshop for children on April 20 and 27. The exhibition will continue till April 30.