Immortalising the native writer

Vinod Pattanippara and his `literary portraits.' Pics: H. Vibhu.  

WHEN TAPASYA Cultural Centre in Kozhikode commissioned Vinod Pattanippara to make a couple of portraits of well known Malayali poets, it set the ball rolling for a long-term interest in the subject for the young artist. As soon as he was done with the assignment Vinod made a spirited journey to seek out all the poets and writers, litterateurs and authors who had contributed in building the tomes of the State's `sahitya.' He pored over books in the library, reading copiously before starting out. Starting from the year 1350 A.D. to date, at the end of his research he had touched the magic number of 160. The next step was to eternalise them by the only way he knew. He spread out his canvas and copied the faces of the writers from their small sized photographs. To break the monotony of the exhibit, he has played around with the medium at hand.

Some are line drawings; others are made in oils, crayons, watercolours, and charcoal and poster colours. With every different medium his style changes so that some have a realistic effect while others are impressionistic. Eager to sum up his imprint of the subject matter, some watercolours look hurriedly put together. This is exactly how fast they were executed. "I take about two hours to complete one portrait," says 29-year-old Vinod, who has made over a 150 pictures in a year. And is still going strong. Each of the portraits that was put up on display at Chavara Cultural Centre, Kochi, carried a small write up about the said poet or author, his times and works.

Immortalising the native writer

For the lovers of literature it is a walk down memory lane. Some of the literary figures covered are the universally loved Vaikom Mohammed Basheer, Cherussery Namboodri dating 1375 A.D., Lalithambika Antharjanam, the famous poetess who was born in an aristocratic family but wrote literature for the poor and young children. And then there is Rama Panikkar from Nivanam and E.M.Kovoor, who wrote short stories and plays.

The list is almost endless and the purpose is only one; to re-ignite people's passion for reading and writing indigenous literature.

Immortalising the native writer

"Our literary heritage is crumbling in the face of massive onslaught of television and movies. The young specially are turning away from our rich culture and looking westwards," says Vinod.

Yet another attempt to rejuvenate a practice gone awry. The exhibition is to travel all over Kerala.