KOCHI: When Nithin K P paints, he doesn’t just draw an image or recreate a scene he came across. He opens up a portal into a different time and space. The term ‘long-forgotten times’ comes to one’s mind while looking at Nithin’s artworks. The culture and lives of North Kerala have greatly influenced this Kannur-native’s artworks.
In his painting of a traditional Malabar home, Nithin has painstakingly added details to create a living, breathing house with a vast orchard and silent occupants. The large Nalukettu of the yesteryears stand proud, basking in the evening sun. Coconuts and a basket lie in the courtyard, a white cloth dries in the evening sun. Greater coucal, a regular visitor, is seen resting on the top of a straw mound. Many of these elements are a rare sight in today’s world.
“I want people to feel like they are part of the painting. That’s why I try to create an entire atmosphere with my works. From the evening sun to the wilderness of a Kaavu, I draw each detail so the painting can help the viewers experience my imagination,” says Nithin, who works as an assistant art director under artist Ajayan Chalissery.
His love for Theyyam is evident in his repertoire. Its many types — Baali, Pottan, Kathivanoor Veeran — are part of his ongoing series. “I grew up watching Theyyam. The different hues, ornaments, its rhythm and drums, how the performances make the night come alive, the experience of witnessing the pinnacle of the dance worship — all these have made an unforgettable impression on me. Whenever I hear about a Theyyam performance, I always rush to watch it,” quips Nithin.
Baali Theyyam is closely connected to his life and culture, says the artist. In one of his paintings, the eyes of a Baali character peeks out of bushes, cunningly. In another painting on the Theyyam Kathivannoor Veeran, the character is portrayed as the epitome of love, surrounded by red flowers and green elephant leaves, as he beckons to hold the hands of Chemmarathy. The moon is a witness to their tragic love, depicted by Nithin quite surreally, in the company of dragonflies that roam the twilight.
“I started working as an assistant art director with Ajayan Chalissery in 2019. My work in movies influenced my artworks a lot. I learned to pay attention to details more,” says the young artist, who was always interested in art. “I studied fine arts after Class 12. Though I used to draw from childhood, fine arts made me take painting seriously,” says Nithin.
Nithin takes around two months to finish each painting. That is how long it takes for him to bring his imagination to the forefront. “My schedule also prevents me from sitting with my Ipad for a long time,” quips Nithin. He started his foray into digital works with a phone app. But even the artworks he made at the time, with minimal resources, boast incredible quality and many details. “I am more concerned about quality than quantity,” says the artist.