Chennai artist captures city’s iconic buildings in a collage for Madras Week

This artwork attempts to show Chennai through the years by featuring 49 iconic buildings that the city is home to

August 27, 2022 05:00 pm | Updated 05:00 pm IST

Mohan Krishnan’s collage

Mohan Krishnan’s collage | Photo Credit: special arrangement

Mohan Krishnan, a Chennai-born artist, celebrates Madras Week this year by capturing the essence of the city in a collage jostling with Chennai’s most iconic buildings.

As an artist and a documentary filmmaker, 60-year-old Mohan had been sketching since childhood.

Though he has not had any formal training, he had a passion to draw sketches of Chennai since childhood. “I studied contemporary art recently during the COVID-19 lockdown. During that time, I made a few oil paintings, botanical sketches, a series on steam engines and travel sketches,” he says.

Set against a yellow background, the A2 size collage print on 175gsm paper, titled Chennai Shining, harmonically combines both Madras and Chennai.

Krishnan says, "The yellow background represents the hot and shining weather here. In the collage, I have included a total of 49 places such as Marina beach, Chepauk Stadium, Kapaleeshwarar Temple, St. Andrew's Church in Egmore, Roxy Theater (demolished), the airport, Madras University, Madras Port, Light House and LIC building: basically, showing Chennai through times."

These are places that attracted him visually.

Most of these places were included because he had a childhood connection with them. "The Madras University building has a special meaning for me as I used to spend a lot of time browsing through its library. Anna Nagar and Vivekananda House beach are special to me. We used to spend so much time in the beach as children. Anna Nagar Tower area used to be our playground in the olden days. And I added the Light House in Sathome because I grew up near the beach."

Krishnan says sketching Chennai Shining was difficult as he used pen and ink. “I did not do any foundation drawing with pencil. I sketch directly with the pen and hence there was no room for errors and corrections.”

Though this is his maiden effort to present Chennai in poster form, the artist has made several documentaries over the years. These include documentaries on the Nilgiri mountain railways, Chennai through the times, the city of Panjim to name a few. All his documentaries are available on his YouTube channel, BoxKite Films.

He is currently working on his next collage, Divine Kanchi. “It will be completed in about six months,” he says, adding that this will show the ancient temples of Kanchipuram in a similar pattern. “But it will have a slightly different type of sketching because temples require a different approach. The sketches will be oriented according to the architecture and sculptures,” he adds.

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