‘From Kerala, With Love’, an installation by Kochi-based artist T R Upendranath at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale reflects the changes seen in society over the years. The title is suggestive of the letter-writing habit that has become a fast-fading practice in today's world with emails, SMSes and telephones, said the 43-year-old self-taught artist.
“Earlier, renaissance and similar movements stirred up the Kerala society. After that, change came through liberalisation and globalisation. I wonder what we would have been but for these waves of new culture. My installation aims to bring that thought into focus.”
The work is a collage based on his own photographs, which have elements of curiosity. “My aim is to narrate the changes that have happened within us over the years, through a string of alterations in our culture and lifestyle.”
Upendranath recalls how the job of his father T Raman, as a franking machine operator in the postal department, stoked interest in him about a similar profession.
“I was doing my pre-degree course then, the penchant to work on machines also gifted me with a lot of trips. My art today is a translation of my capital from those days.”
The artist says he was initially clueless about ways to communicate his feelings. “Soon I realised that art takes birth from blurred thoughts. I have kept changing my medium since then.” Upendranath began with sketches and moved on to collages and painting on them.
His first exhibition was in 1994, in Kozhikode, when painter-poet friend K C Mahesh took the initiative.
He subsequently did illustrations for international magazines like Reader’s Digest and Span.
So, would a course in art have helped him shape a better profile? “No, I don’t think so. But it would enable you to closely interact with fellow artists and communicate with them strongly.”