Sunday, February 7, 2010

Kerala mural art comes to city


Kerala, the God's own country on the southwestern coast of India, has won the admiration of visitors because of its tradition and lush greenery. A study of the Kerala mural paintings will make one understand the State's art and cultural tradition.
To impart training in traditional mural painting of Kerala, the Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya, Mysore, has organised a Museum Education programme under 'Do & Learn' series at Wellington House on Irwin Road. It will conclude on Dec. 1.
"Art in Kerala is as old as civili-sation in the region and they have gone through intensive time-tested process of alteration and development," says Koolippara Raman Babu, Faculty Member, Department of Mural Painting, Malayala Kala Graman, New Mahe, Kannur, Kerala, who is imparting training for more than 30 artists from city in mural paintings.
"Painting murals is very much different from painting smaller works. A person is completely overwhelmed and absorbed by the painting itself. It will also help in building up imagination," opines Babu.
"Basically, the students who are learning this art are painters themselves and they learn with very enthusiasm and zeal. At first, the students will be taught how to trace on a canvas cloth and then paint," says K.R. Babu.
Mural painting
Kerala holds the second place in having the largest collection of archaeologically important mural sites, the first being Rajasthan. The roots of the mural tradition of Kerala could be traced to seventh and eighth century AD. These paintings are frescos depicting mythology and legends, drawn on the walls of temples and churches in South India, especially in Kerala and bring Ajanta and Ellora paintings to one's mind.
The subjects for murals were derived from religious texts, palaces and temples with unique pictures of Hindu gods and goddesses. Flora, fauna and other aspects of nature are also taken as background. They are pain-ted using natural pigments and revived by a new genre of artists actively involved in researching and teaching mural art.
The colours selected by the artists symbolise the permutations of the psychological qualities embodied in the quasi-scientific philosophical systems of the gunas the triple division of all reality with — Satva (the noblest), Rajas (the active and middle principle) and Tamas (the dark and destructive principle) respectively.
The colour symbolism is traditionally green for Satvik, red and mixture of red and yellows for the rajasik and black (Shaivite) and white (vaishnavite) for the tamasik deities. Saffron red is the most commonly used colour of Kerala murals.
The composition factors governed are proportion, pose and background. For instance, the face will be divided into three sections with neck to one fourth of the face and length of the chest is to be equal to that of the face. There are also broad principles for the depiction of the eyes expressing different emotions. Similarly, the visualisation of animals, trees, mountains, waterfalls, rivers, fish, temples, market etc. are governed by distinct principles and rules.
Murals decorate the inner walls of the room, ceiling or other large permanent surface and it covers a variety of techniques including fresco, mosaic, stained glass and photography. An interesting type of mural is painting on canvas, which is then attached to a wall or painting directly on the wall surface itself.
Creating effective mural painting requires sturdy brushes, paint, glazing and the most important factor, your imagination. Acrylic paints are used for the actual mural painting. Brushes for painting on the walls are made of blades of certain grass and roots of some trees. Sharpened bamboo pieces are used to draw outlines of murals. The best brushes for use with acrylic paints are high quality synthetic ones.
Herbal and vegetable dyes, fruit juices, minerals and chemical extracted from the earth, stones, root and such natural materials are used for making the paint.
[Friday 27th November 2009]

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