Kerala-Based Suresh Okay. Nair Created 4,500 Miniature Paintings During The Lockdown

In November 2019, Suresh Okay. Nair was leaving for Lisbon from London when he stumbled upon a passenger on the Heathrow airport. Her gait caught his consideration and he determined to sketch her. “Somebody in her mid-40s, and apparently a dancer. Such amazing cadence in her sashay!” Nair recollects. “I felt an urge to sketch her, but had no paper on me.”

So the artist took out a visiting card and began drawing on its again. On reaching the Portuguese capital, Nair purchased some handmade paper and “cut them into matchbox-size pieces, little realising that it was going to be the start of a long series in minimalist art,” says Nair, who teaches portray at Banaras Hindu University (BHU). “Today I have more than 4,500 of them.”

The quantity is critical; it refers to Nair’s village in Palakkad, the riverine Vellinezhi, that has round 4,500 households. “I plan to visit each house and give one artwork away. It will add to my ongoing efforts to popularise visual art among common people,” says the 50-year-old, an alumnus of Visva-Bharati University in West Bengal and the Institute of Mural Painting in Guruvayur.

Vellinezhi’s civic physique has warmed as much as the initiative and has prolonged funds underneath a governmental programme for nationwide promotion of tradition.

Miniature Works

From 2019, Nair has been continually engaged on his miniatures. “Initially, the images did not have any colour in the backdrop. But i later began to spray colours on them after sketching,” says Nair. His course of had modified as a result of two causes.

One, was COVID-19. Nair developed a horrible cough and breathlessness. “My wife and two daughters had just left for Kerala and I was alone in my quarters. To ward off the loneliness and fears of death, I focussed all the more on my miniatures. My state of mind altered the painting process.”

The second cause was a sudden mid-summer bathe. Nair had had saved his paintings to dry in lengthy rows on the balcony. Raindrops spattered on them, and he determined to make that impact a function of his the work. “I felt my work has documented Varanasi’s clouds and skies as well.”

Nair is an ardent advocate of public artwork. “I realised its importance during my studies at Santiniketan (1995-2002). I liked the Tagorean concept of bringing art closer to the man on the street,” he says. This spirit is manifest in Nair’s ‘Wall of Peace’, an out of doors work, created in affiliation with 15 college students in early 2019, on 14 panels throughout 7,000 sq.m., on the fence of a authorities college in Cherpulassery.

Nair’s earliest inspiration got here from two temples in his neighbourhood in Adakkaputhur, with their classical frescoes. It took him to Kerala’s first mural institute, after a two-year course from Silpachitra College of Fine Arts in Pattambi. “Doing murals in cloistered environs is one thing, and public art is another,” says Nair.

He experiments on this concept in diverse methods. One such is to color at gatherings the place a music recital is on. “I do it in Benaras; painting at venues hosting Sufi or Hindustani concerts. In a way, they are a repetition of what I used to do in the 1990s — watching Kathakali shows and sketching the characters on stage.”

“Such trysts may appear repetitive, but they have a therapeutic effect,” the artist says. “No wonder, my latest miniatures feature what the Natyasastra classifies as the 108 karanas (brief movements of the body, accompanied by hand gestures).”


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