An 84-year-old's gallery for Ganesha

The pandemic era opened the doors to art and creativity for 84-year-old Mattar Prabhakar Kini.
Art Museum curated by Kini
Art Museum curated by Kini

UDUPI : Age doesn't dictate dreams, nor does age drive the discovery of art. For 84-year-old Mattar Prabhakar Kini, weaving his ideas and adding colour to his imagination through art, is a singular way of expressing and displaying his creative side.

Kini, a resident of Ajjarakad in Udupi, is a great devotee of Lord Ganesha, and much of his art surrounds this much-loved deity. After completing his BCom at MGM College, Udupi, in 1959, he shifted to Mumbai to study further. Later, he worked as a company secretary for a law firm, before starting his own IT trading company in 1985. He moved to Bengaluru in 1998, where he set up 'Sri Ganesha Duniya', an exclusive space at home for displaying his collection of more than 500 Ganesha statues and figurines. Soon, Sri Ganesha Duniya began to attract many curious and fascinated visitors from the neighbourhood.

When the Covid-19 pandemic struck, Kini decided to return to Udupi, where he viewed the grim time as being ideal for investing in some creative pursuits. Accordingly, he transformed his flat in Ajjarakad to inspire his work. To keep busy, Kini would purchase magazines and books online. His real dive into art happened when he completed reading those books.

 Mattar Prabhakar Kini, 84, a resident of Udupi, stands in front of his shelves of art works
 Mattar Prabhakar Kini, 84, a resident of Udupi, stands in front of his shelves of art works

The idea of 'art therapy' came to him, whereby he viewed art as dispelling unwanted thoughts during the challenging phase of the pandemic, especially the lockdown. His devotion to Lord Ganesha inspired him to see the deity's image out of every page of the magazine, and an arty idea emerged. He began cutting pages from the magazines into required shapes, which would be pasted together on other pieces of paper to create exotic images of Ganesha. Today, there are hundreds of these Ganesha-themed collages adorning his space. "Creativity is my passion. Apart from spending time reading, you will find me engrossed in making art," he says. Kini spends 3-4 hours on creating each work.

His daughter Vidya Shanbhag, an architect, feels proud of her father's venture into the world of art. "He has a lot of patience, and his love and passion for creativity makes it possible for him to realise his dream," she says.

Explaining the laborious process involved in collage creation, Kini tells The New Sunday Express that he has to find a suitably colourful page from a magazine and then cut it using a pair of ergonomically-designed scissors. This ensures precision.

In due course, Kini’s vast array of Ganesha art creations took his name into the India Book of Records for 'having the maximum number of Lord Ganesha images in paper collage form by an octogenarian'.

Apart from Ganesha, Kini's collection now boasts of other collages, of Lord Rama, Lord Krishna, and Lord Hanuman, among others. Besides collage art, Kini has also created several abstract pieces.Kini is of the opinion that his art is for the public to savour. Hence, he had organised a free exhibition of his works at his residence recently, which was visited by several art enthusiasts.

Going forward, Kini intends to purchase an old house and create a 'Kala Kuteera' (art house).

During the pandemic, though he had shifted to Udupi, he could not keep his entire art collection at his rented accommodation in Ajjarakad. He accordingly readied 'Sri Ganesha Museum' near Sri Venkataramana Temple in Mulki, Dakshina Kannada, which houses over 500 artworks made of metal, wood, clay and fibre. Signing off, Kini dispels any remaining doubts on whether art can be pursued at any age. "I am the example before you," he chuckles.

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The New Indian Express