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Achuthan Kudallur’s life was a cosmic dance with art in all its magnificence and ambiguity


Canvases in pink, or past the definition of pink, have all the time been a a part of Kudallur’s work

Canvases in pink, or past the definition of pink, have all the time been a a part of Kudallur’s work

Achuthan Kudallur has now travelled past the abstractions of his canvases, stuffed with indicators and symbols encoded in color.

Canvases in pink, or past the definition of pink, have been a a part of Kudallur’s work ever since I can recall. It explains why Gita Hudson, who has been documenting the works of South Indian artists, has produced a video of Kudallur’s work, ‘Red Symphony’. As the digital camera pans over the work that have been exhibited on the Durbar Hall Art Gallery in Kochi, there are hypnotic drumbeats of Kerala’s ritualistic performers marking the heart beat of life and loss of life.

ALSO READ Achuthan Kudallur: India’s influential summary artist and a quiet mentor to many

Like pulsars

Against the pink of his summary creations, you typically get tiny streaks of white. They seem like pulsars, pin-points of sunshine that he has instinctively positioned at random to create a sense of increasing area. At different instances, Kudallur fragments his canvas with black strokes. Like black holes that devour the sunshine, or create them anew, they mirror the considerations of the tantric rituals enacted in Kerala temples when patterns in color positioned on the ground are stamped out by the ft of performers.

As his identify suggests, the artist belongs to Kudallur, a city in the Pattambi Taluk of Palakkad that borders one of the majestic of Kerala’s rivers, the Bharathapuzha. The ebb and move of those rivers hang-out those that have lived by their banks.

“I would like my paintings to flow from my hands like a child playing with colours in a stream of water,” he had as soon as confessed. Quite other than the enduring reds, with their intimations of darkness, Kudallur additionally painted abstractions loaded with a palette of the darting blues of a kingfisher, the yellows of the flowering amaltas and palm frond greens that beautify the choices made on the harvest time of Vishu. In retrospect, they seem to have fun reminiscences of a carefree childhood. He had been educated to be a civil engineer, perhaps even a author, as he as soon as admitted. When he was launched to the Government College of Art in Chennai, and a group of art lovers who began the Madras Art Club, he found his vocation.

Self-taught

In time, he acquired a number of honours and notably loved the camaraderie of the art camps in completely different components of the nation. He was invited to the seventh Art Triennale in New Delhi in 1991, in addition to the Asian Art Show in Fukuoka, Japan.

“He was a self-taught artist who believed he had to try all the harder because he had something to prove to the world,” explains Pravin Kannanur, the theatre director, activist and artist of huge swirling canvases. “He was also deeply interested in literature, film, and the lives of people both in his adopted States of Tamil Nadu and Kerala.” To some extent, he was what the French name a ‘flaneur’ a wanderer who trod alongside many paths, partaking with what him with a sensual delight however by no means permitting himself to be seduced by them. His ardour he reserved for his canvas. He believed that art must be a part of everybody’s life, not simply of the elite.

“It was through Yusuf Arakkal that I met Kudallur. They were both very good friends but also very different,” explains A.M. Sikander, who purchased an early work of Kuddalur, perhaps on the advice of the late Arakkal, his cousin. “While Yusuf was a friend to the world, Achuthan seemed much more introverted. When I showed him my painting, he looked at it in surprise and muttered: ‘I don’t know when I painted this’. He seemed to be drawn into the depths of what is essentially a dark canvas of reds and blacks.” Sikander says that what intrigued him concerning the work was that the layers of paint created completely different interpretations.

“It’s not my intention to give you an interpretation of my work. It’s up to you to find your own meaning, or not at all,” he instructed Mayur Shah, the younger proprietor of the Focus Art Gallery in Chennai.

Shah confesses that regardless of the distinction in their ages, Kudallur grew to become one of many driving forces in his life and work. “He was not just my friend and teacher, but also a mentor. He taught me to look at art from an entirely different perspective, not just to be judged by commercial success. He was keen that we make art available to young collectors, to look at the work of new artists and give them the encouragement to exhibit their work in our gallery.” In a sense, that debt was repaid, when Shah was there with Achuthan on the finish. He was 77 years outdated.

“He was the most genuine of artists,” says Shah, “His only truth was being true to oneself.”

The Chennai-based author is a critic and cultural commentator.



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