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A tribute to master authors

CHARACTERS LEAP out of scripts of yore, begging to be portrayed. A village boy's diffidence, as he makes his first trip to town, is seized by a master artist to be forever fastened on canvas. There's a mystique that Malayalam writers Vaikom Mohammad Basheer and VKN weave into their protagonists that makes them a favourite for the State painters to constantly interpret and renew.

VKN's boy is a typical youngster of contemporary Kerala, awed by the freshness of his experience. The urban costumes and dresses appeal to this lad as he goes about the market place. "Because we are using the story as a base, here the painting becomes an illustration," says P. V. Nandan, author of this canvas and also one of the 23 artists who attended camps organised to celebrate memories of Basheer.

It was the hurry and scurry of the camp, which made celebrated artist C. N. Karunakaran revert back to a style of painting that he had long given up. The delicate, lyrical line drawing gives way to a spur-of-the-moment brush stoke which is thicker and more impressionistic. Since the base of his pictures is black, the colours are dark and muted. During this camp, he teamed up with artist Namboodiri to work on a single painting. While Namboodiri would do the drawing, it was left to Karunakaran to paint it. "It's like a jugalbandi," says a fellow artist. What we have is not only the mingling of the two artists' much individuated styles but also of two authors because the characters epitomise the works of both Basheer and VKN.

M. K. Rajan's gramophone, done in charcoal, embodies Basheer's interest in music. Indeed he had a large collection of Hindi, Bengali and Urdu ghazals that the writer introduced to this southern State many years ago. Elsewhere, his role as a freedom fighter is symbolised by Ajayakumar.S. In an anti-British riot, a boat containing heaps of rice is torched by villagers as their silhouettes are spotted against the flames.

Issues such as security and power are debated in Binuraj.D.'s acrylic media done in sharp blues, reds, and yellows. Even as cartoonist Prakash Shetty indulges in what he calls 'cartoon-o-painting', his aim is clear humour. On display is Mokan, the man whose nose wouldn't stop growing. Artist Kaladharan paints on glass as he's been doing for sometime now. Given the nature of the medium he paints in reverse; what the viewer sees on the right he paints on the left and vice versa. His works, as he co-relates them to the manuscripts, are a spoof where everything is turned upside down. Compositions get rearranged as characters mill around in search of an author. Nothing is, as it seems.

A bold and sensitive portrayal, it's well apparent that the themes of these two authors will find resonance in the works of artists for time to come.


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