He might throw tantrums at the drop of a hat; his spine-chilling roars could trigger a stampede in a jiffy; his mood-shifts could cause you your precious life. However, elephant, undoubtedly, is Malayalis’ all-time favourite animal for its affable innocence and unabating loyalty. When M R Ramachandran skillfully captured the myriad moods of elephants on his canvases (Gaja Pooja and Elephant attack), he was unabashedly proclaiming his love for this animal. Ramachandran, a retired engineer from Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) may be a novice in the art world with not more than two years, experience here, but his paintings tell a different story. ‘Kazhcha’, an exhibition of paintings being conducted at Vyloppilly Sanskrithi Bhavan, showcases an array of spellbinding spectacles Ramachandran had witnessed over the years.
“I always had a penchant for drawing. While working as a technical officer for Naval Physical and Oceanographic Laboratory (NPOL), there were not enough opportunities to explore the creative streaks in me. Once I retired, those who had seen me paint asked me to restart it. My artistic journey started henceforth,” says Ramachandran. While curbing his creative hunger pangs Ramachandran has conducted six exhibitions across the state in the last two years.
His works - predominantly realistic with real-life incidents and scenes as themes - do not tax the viewers’ sensibilities more than required. Rather, they are pleasing to the eyes in an obvious manner. His watercolour works which accentuate imagery, effectively downplay colour, while using it to divulge the best. His colour palette is missing sorbet and pastels, as he plays around in gutsy emeralds, flaming reds and Prussian blues. With his dainty detailing he makes the mundane exceptional, while sticking firmly to its original. They all are familiar banal visions that we have seen and ignored on our way, but in his hands they gain a new lease of life.
From the life-like portraits of Indira Gandhi, Bharath Gopi and K J Yesudas to the intricate acrylic paintings of landscapes and people, in about 32 canvases, Ramachandran paints the people and events that had influenced him through the years. “The pencil sketches were done during the 1970s – 80s. I just didn’t want to throw them away. They are also remnants of a rich past,” quips Ramachandran.
The owls, crows, kingfishers and storks painted in simple watercolours are the highlight of this exhibition. They stand out from the crowd of large canvases in small yet stunning frames. Ramachandran has not splurged colours for these miniature works rather he effectively uses monotones by giving slight strokes of yellow or blue in between. His ‘Soundaryam’ which shows a woman staring at a mirror, portrays the vanity of a dancer. The image of Lord Shiva’s sculpture drowning in the last year’s Uttarkhand floods got imprinted in every believers’ minds, Ramachandran brings life to that image in one of his canvases. He also attempts abstractionism, where he paints a monkey, who balances between a lamp and a wall, while juggling with handballs. He tries to elucidate existentialism with his simple portrayals. The exhibition open from 10 am to 6.30 pm is on till May 14.