initiative Close to 250 artists are decorating public places with mural paintings

Painting a city will obviously arouse curiosity especially among the lovers of art. Kottayam, the city of letters, is being painted into a mural city. Heading an ongoing international mural camp, is veteran artist K. Laxma Goud.

The event organised by Kerala Lalitha Kala Akademi in association with Department of Culture, Govt. of Kerala has provided materials for this massive festival of colours in which painters portray heterogeneous Indian culture and its untold artistic patterns together with foreign artists to generate a visual art culture. There are 250 artists, national and international, working at public spaces like the Railway Station and the Collectorate.

Mural city is a loaned idea from the west but for a place like Kottayam, which has a number of mural paintings (Chuvarchithram)on the walls of temples like Ettumanoor temple, Aymanam temple and Vaikom temple and its unique tradition and techniques of preparing indigenous natural pigments, add more relevance to this unique project.

Different treatments

Mural painting has three transitional steps on account of its development. In Kottayam, the traditional mural paintings that have endured over time on the walls of temples, monasteries and palaces are being reinvented and drawn at Thirunakkara temple and Kottayam Valiyapally. Appearance of deities represented in Puranas and Vedic texts in contemporary paintings deepens the time-honoured nostalgic mood of our culture.

Among the foreign artists, the Korean team has painted the Korean alphabet, on the walls of CMS College, which they consider being spiritually relevant and mystic. They preferred to draw on the walls of educational institutions, showcasing the modern shades of mural art.

A group of painters from Orissa painted their tribal folk art called Patta Chithra on the wall of Kottayam railway station promulgating their restrained artistic genius on a larger canvas. The tribal pictures drawn on the walls of the civil station and other public institutions recreate stories of yore.

Contemporary painters like Biswarajan Kar and his three dimensional painting, which makes use of mirror glass and coconut shells, and the cement relief done by Suresh K. Nair elucidate modern trends and experiments in mural art. Nele Martens from Germany, who paints on postmodern themes of abstraction and meaninglessness, stated that this mural camp is a step into variability of painting methods in mural painting.

Colours and paints

Kerala Chuvarchithram tradition has a prosperous and indigenous holding of pigments and colour mishmashes derived through years of experiments. Traditionally the mural painting is done using in five colours (Panchavarna)-red, yellow, green, black and white. Colours are prepared from vegetables and mineral pigments. Red is derived from red laterite; yellow from yellow laterite, white from lime and black from soot of oil lamps. For example the artists from Kalady Sree Sankaracharya University and other art schools follow the traditional preparation of natural colours for their works .


The future of this venture, which involves high investment and priceless effort of artists, is a nagging question faced by the organisers. Chief Coordinator K.U. Krishnakumar and the Chairman of the Akademi K.A. Francis have already said that the preservation of these precious paintings will be done by the respective public department which exhibits it. The Akademi will oversee the maintenance.

If the authorities are faithful to their responsibilities these mural wonders will transcend time, shouldering our glorious culture.