The painting is on the wall: Artist Naveen Kumar talks about Kerala mural art

Blended shades Naveen Kumar hopes to teach Kerala mural to people from across the country

Blended shades Naveen Kumar hopes to teach Kerala mural to people from across the country   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement


Art Houz hosts a Kerala mural art exhibition and workshop in the city

Naveen Kumar who is arriving in Coimbatore shortly to participate in a Kerala Mural Exhibition called Prakriti organised by Art Houz will also be holding a mural workshop. In it, he will give participants a brief introduction on the history of the art and then teach them the basic techniques. He says it is his first time in the city and he is greatly looking forward to it. “I want to introduce this art to people from around the country,” says Naveen, who has so far conducted nearly 60 workshops and 100 exhibitions in Bengaluru, Chennai, Hydrabad, Mumbai, Kozhikode, Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi.

The 40-year-old artist from Kozhikode believes that the Mural Art from Kerala is unique. “The designs have a strong resemblance to the Thangka painting from Tibet. This influence can be due to the trade relations that existed between the countries years ago.” Traditional murals can be found on the walls of temples and palaces across Kerala. “The oldest painting was discovered at the Thirunanthikara Cave Temple at Kanyakumari. It is believed to be from the 10th century,” he says.

The traditional murals used natural extracts from stones, plants and soot

The traditional murals used natural extracts from stones, plants and soot   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Info you can use
  • Prakriti, an art exhibition organised by Art Houz
  • Mural paintings by Ambili Thekkedath, Gurukulam Babu, Naveen Kumar, Nisha Bhaskaran, Panamanna Ganesh, Prasanth, Ratheesh Chelamattom, Sanu TS, Sumesh K Shanmugan and Veena Sanoj will be showcased
  • November 21-28; 10:00 am to 6:00 pm
  • Call 04224335777 for details

One of his most challenging projects as a mural artist he says was restoring a 17th Century painting. “In 2003, I worked on a mural at the Padmanabhapuram palace. It was six and a half metres in length and five metres in height. Oil lamps had covered the murals in soot. It took me six months to complete the restoration,” he says.

While mural art has been around for centuries, it had died out. The revival happened when a section of the Guruvayoor Temple caught fire. “The Devaswom Board decided to reconstruct the temple in its earlier form. Artist Mammiyur Krishnan Kutty Nair was in charge of the paintings, but both he and the board members realised that there were very few artists left who were familiar with the art. This led to the establishment of the Guruvayoor Devaswom Mural Painting Institute, which played a great role in making the art popular again,” he says. Naveen joined this course in 1995.“I was never interested in murals till then. But, the history and aesthetics related to the art amazed me and I fell in love with it.”

Kerala Mural workshop
  • The workshop is on November 23; 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm
  • @ Art Houz, Jenney’s Residency
  • Registration fee is ₹750 inclusive of materials
  • Call 8220121999 to register

The Kerala murals are done with five colours — green, black, red, white and yellow. “Traditionally it is done using natural extracts from stones, plants and soot. Now artists use acrylic and oil paints. While the natural colours are subtle, the synthetic ones are more vibrant and gives a different effect to the art,” he says.

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2019 12:52:56 AM |

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