“As a teacher in Painting, I joined Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi and the city welcomed me with its varied sounds, music and rituals. With the passing years of my life, the reverberating Vedic chanting, the evening Ganga arati, the sounds of cycle rickshaws, all became part of my life and enthralled me with its very special and divine sounds. It is with such a backdrop that I started documenting the sounds and music of Varanasi through calligraphic drawings, which evolved into a body of five thousand drawings based on Indian Classical Music,” Suresh K Nair, internationally renowned artist, shares his experiences.
MY LOCKDOWN EXPERIENCE
Suresh K. Nair
I have found a kind of meditation, and the practice has become a visual mantra that gives a lot of positive energy to the body. This practice has a story of origin. In November, last year, while waiting for my flight from London to Lisbon, I noticed a female ( who seemed to be a dancer) walking through. I followed her with the wish to make some drawings but, unfortunately, my sketchbook and drawing materials were in my checked in baggage. Finally, I took my visiting card and started drawing the images on the back side of the card… thus was born the artistic idea to create images in a minimalist style that fitted the limited size of a card. That became a new practice for me.
I bought some handmade paper cards in Lisbon and continued my minimalist drawings. Later I did more work in January and February when I received a project from my native village in Kerala and started planning for that. The project is to provide each villager with a miniature painting… so I propose to make 4500 miniature paintings and offer them as a token of love as part of the world PEACE project.
This lockdown was unexpected, but, fortunately, I had bought around 5000 interesting cards during my recent Kerala trip. Kerala is badly affected by Novel coronavirus but the Kerala government is dealing with it properly.
I had some cough issues in the 2nd week of March just after the Kerala visit… I had also met a Japanese artist and an American Artist during that period… so I suspected…. I got confused… I thought I had the symptoms of Novel coronavirus, and I went to our University hospital where they are testing but they declined doing the test. That same night, the cough became more serious and I had breathing issues. The next day, I called the Head of Microbiology Dr. Gopal Nath and he helped me to do the special testing as a University Professor. Those results came back as negative.
Yet, I had been in a panic for ten days, and that is reflected in my work… as I was confined to a room. So, sitting there I worked on these handmade visiting cards (2 inches x 3 inches) and it has become a kind of autobiographical narration of this personal and social experience told through such devices as the hundred and eight Karnas, the thousand Buddha (Gestures), traditional shadow puppets of Kerala (Pavakkoothu), yogic postures and my day to day experience and observations.
Suresh K Nair is a Professor, Department of Painting, Faculty of Visual Arts, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi.
He studied Mural Painting from the Institute of Mural Painting Guruvayur, Kerala and Viswa Bharati University, Santiniketan.
Suresh K Nair has acquired a major presence in the Indian and International art scene over the last decade conducting several successful shows with regional and international galleries and museums. He has executed many murals and conducted exhibitions in the USA, Canada and Spain. His monumental painting ‘Cosmic Butterfly’ was exhibited in Essl Museum, Vienna, Austria in 2010.
He was awarded the Elizabeth Green Shield Foundation Scholarship from Canada in 1999, Fulbright Fellowship (2006-07) from USA for an Educational Exchange Programme at Tyler School of Art, Temple University, Philadelphia. Also received the Lalithakala Akademi Award, Ministry of Culture, Kerala.