Natanam finds artistic satisfaction in creating murals
Stylised and colourful: Natanam's mural depicting Krishna lifting the Govardhana mountain
SRINI LANKA, who built a house in Texas, wanted a large mural. And he wanted one made by artist Natarajan, popularly known as Natanam. So particular was he that he was willing to wait a year for the artist to make it. Natanam created three murals a vertical one (8'x3') to be fixed near the entrance, a horizontal one (12'x4') for the living room and a square one (2'x2').
The horizontal panel made of thick plywood depicts the story of Krishna lifting the Govardhana mountain. The stylised and colourful work shows Krishna in the middle, lifting the mountain with his little finger as men and women look at him with reverence. Some cows add to the overall effect. The background is decorated with typical Indian designs. Brass is used for the jewellery and other ornamentation, while Krishna's jewellery is gold plated.
The palanquin bearers, horses and trees in the square mural have a toy-like appearance.
The vertical piece is contemporary in concept and the faces in the lower half are similar to the illustrations that Natanam draws for several Tamil magazines. As the eyes move up, the faces become part of the pattern and can easily be missed.
From a distance, the background glistens with shades of blue and green; get closer and they turn out to be tiny glass beads or paasi manis. Though made of wood, the murals have the finish of a low relief ceramic work.
As for the artist, he hails from a village near Kumbakonam and used to draw caricatures as a school student. He drew inspiration from the popular illustrator and caricaturist Gopulu. After completing his certificate course in freehand drawing, outline and model drawing, Natanam came to Chennai in search of better prospects. After working as an apprentice with Sagar, he began doing illustrations for magazines, something he does to this day.
Natanam works mostly on wood with metal embellishments. Sometimes, he uses cement and stone. Some of his creations look like enlarged versions of Tanjore paintings. His works have found takers both in India and abroad. Some of his corporate clients include the International Airport Authority, Air India, IDBI, British High Commission, Chennai, Larsen & Toubro and Bharat Petroleum.
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