M.R. ARAVINDAN catches up with artist A. Kannan on his painting of Chettinad bungalows.
CHETTINAD HOUSES conjure up images of gigantic mansions, meticulously planned interiors, beautifully carved wooden pillars, palatial external appearance. These gorgeous architectural delights attract one and all and in recent times has, in fact, got Chettinad, permanently etched on tourist maps of both domestic and foreign travellers.
Symbols of acumen
Seeing the beeline, the Government too is making efforts to preserve these `heritage' structures, which are symbols of the acumen of our ancestors in construction. But sadly, owners of most houses now live in other cities or countries and the buildings have been left uncared. More saddening is the fact that the timber (pure Burma teak) used in these houses are being stolen by `anti-socials'.
To propagate the exquisiteness and the need to preserve these great structures, A. Kannan, an artist and a native of Karaikudi, has started portraying them in attractive hues through his paintings. He has also conducted two exhibitions of his works.
"I started pursuing this art, Chettinad Architectural Painting, three or four years ago.
The first exhibition was held at Karaikudi under the aegis of the Department of Art and Culture.
The second one was held at Madurai recently," he informs, thanking N. Sulaiman, Assistant Director, Regional Centre for Art and Culture, for his support.
Having visited nearly 300 houses in 96 different places, Mr. Kannan through his keen observation has brought out every minute detail of these architectural marvels in each of his paintings.
What fascinated him the most are the artworks in the wooden pillars and the number of ribs at the joining point of the floor and the walls.
"Stories of 64 Nayanmars and Kambaramayanam are beautifully crafted on the pillars. Similarly, a matter of wonder is that there are about 10 to 15 ribs at the joining points," Mr. Kannan says wide-eyed.
"It is not an easy job to construct houses of this stature today," he adds with much astonishment.
Of all the houses, the biggest one is that of Raja Annamalai Chettiar.
In his opinion, it is also the best in terms of art works.
If constructing a house in Chettinad style is a challenge to today's architects, designing them in paint also proved tough for Kannan.
"I used to sit at one place for days together to get the exact replica. Sometimes it even extends beyond a week."
"Again the style of painting adopted also matters," points out Mr.Kannan.
"It takes a week if acrylic is used and a couple of weeks in case of oil paint."
Having created an enviable number of paintings from different angles, the artist is now planning to apply for patenting his style of painting.
But, what is of contentment to this middle-aged painter is that he was able to draw the attention of art connoisseurs and also the Government to protect these rich treasures of our tradition.
Send this article to Friends by