ULSOOR:Right after news of Kalam’s death broke, instead of putting up an RIP status like most others, retired bank employee A C Gurumurthy sat at his typewriter.
Two hours later, hitting just the ‘x’ key over and over again at varied pressures, he had his personal tribute, a portrait of the late former president, ready.
“My only regret is that I couldn’t get it signed,” the 67-year-old told City Express. “I drew Rajiv Gandhi’s portrait, which he appreciated and signed. Six months later, he was assassinated.”
On a night like last Monday, Gurumurthy drew his first typortrait, as he calls it — after senator Robert F Kennedy was killed. “I heard the news, and thought I should do something different. I took three hours to do his portrait,” says the Bank of Baroda officer who took voluntary retirement in 2001 to give more time to his hobbies.
After that, he hasn’t used a typewriter for anything but art. In fact, he set aside his Halda, now close to 65 years old, for show and bought a new one just to create his drawings. Gurumurthy is a collector — he also has a pin-hole camera and all the equipment to develop black-and-white prints at his house, a stone’s throw from Ulsoor Lake.
Gandhi, Indira Gandhi, Mother Teresa and Zakir Hussain are some famous people whose portraits he has made. “I also do landscapes and wildlife. If someone wants something specific, I can do that too,” he says.
One of his most appreciated works, of about 60 at an exhibition by him and his photographer-grandson R Ashwin, was that of a shilabaalike from a Belur temple. That show was held at Venkatappa Art Gallery four years ago.
“Somehow, the letters x and m are my favourites. I use x for the more intricate bits of the face or image and bigger letters for the background and to fill spaces,” he says.
How hard or delicately he presses the key depends on how dark he needs that particular part of the drawing to be. “I go over the darkest spots — like the eyebrows — more than once,” he explains.
His passion for photography goes with his other, more unique hobby. He sometimes clicks a picture of what he wants to create using the typewriter. “I need the photo I work with to have a nice light-and-shade effect,” he says. “I can’t work with something that’s too flat.”
He sketches dotted lines on a sheet of paper, and begins working on it with the typewriter. “So far, none of my works have ever gone wrong,” he says, with a touch of pride.
He also paints with water colour and oil, and would like to introduce colour into his works. “During the last exhibition, I noticed that people didn’t find the portraits too impressive visually,” he says. “I want to see if I can combine art on the typewriter with water colour and oil paints for the background.”
Gurumurthy would be happy to teach typeart to those interested.
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