Between stranger things

Anand Radhkrishnan’s art travels between the streets, stories and strokes. The visual artist dabbles into everything from comics to free-flow drawings
Between stranger things

KOCHI: Illustrator Anand Radhkrishnan’s ‘A City of Strange’ is bound to hurtle you across a far-flung albeit oddly familiar cosmos. The city, a concoction of dreamers, manual labourers, starlets, artists, slums, high-rises and fisherfolk, is juxtaposed with blown-up, almost caricaturish, infinite iconic elements even inhabiting your lane. Mumbai, home to Anand, is admired in the four-part series he had worked on in 2015. After getting on board with ‘Floating Canvas Company’, Anand’s striking series finally touched down. 

“I was seeing a lot of kitsch within the art community at the time - iconic signboard lettering, nostalgic brands and stereotypical symbols of the city. A City of Strange was meant to be my response to that movement, sort of an anti-kitsch. A caricature of those elements even ridicules it,” says the Kerala native. 
There’s more. After his work ‘Kuntham’ collected much fanfare at Irregulars Art Fair in Delhi, in 2019, on the theme ‘Altered Realities’,  ‘Kuntham Collectible Sculptures’ -- textures and 3D renders -- will soon hit the shelves. ‘Kuntham’ does justice to its name.

“The ideation started on one of my short teaching trips to NID Ahmedabad and the sketches I made at the time. I kept exploring those shapes and forms and eventually Floating Canvas came on board. We both saw its potential in 3D and we took it forward. Kuntham, in many ways, is just an exploration of free flow drawings without any preconceived notions or descriptive briefs. It is also eroticism taken completely out of the context of the human body and examining how the brain perceives these shapes in a vacuum,” explains Anand. 

The freelance illustrator and visual artist’s commercial work commenced within the comic industry in 2016. “Since comics tie some of my favourite things within art together, along with storytelling, it was a natural route for me to take. It can also be a longer commitment compared to other projects, since it takes about two months to draw a single issue of a comic book,” says Anand who illustrated the cover for ‘Black Mumba’, a self-published book by Ram V. Since then, the duo has worked on various sequential art projects such as ‘Grafity’s Wall’ and ‘Blue in Green’, of which the former gained widespread acclaim. 

Though art was a constant companion, Anand’s tryst with the same didn’t begin on a professional level until he jumped ship after the first year of BSc. A BFA at JJ School of Fine Arts, Mumbai and a two-year stint with the Illustration Academy set the path ahead. The illustrator is no fan of the term ‘style’, which is usually attributed to artists to distinguish their work from another. 

Kuntham 3D renders: Deeganto Joarder
Kuntham 3D renders: Deeganto Joarder

“The term has been overused and oversimplifies the process. I do signature elements but I usually prefer the process to be organic and let the content and tone dictate the technique. I think the latter have changed and evolved over the years, hopefully for the better as I shed some of my influences and try to find my voice in them. But there is a certain charm to be found in the work of someone new to drawing - I sometimes lose that while working now and it is a constant effort to retain it,” says Anand. 

Having spent all his life in Mumbai, Anand says that relocating to Kerala and brushing up on his Malayalam is one of his long-term goals. More targets? “Ram and I have started working on our third major collaboration, an ongoing series called ‘Radio Apocalypse’. Apart from that, I have been working on a few of my projects including writing a series of short stories,” he adds. 
Find his work on Instagram @ an_anandrk

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The New Indian Express