Lost in his world of colours
Painter K.C.Murukeson's master strokes in multiple hues reflect his emotions and expertise, finds T.SARAVANAN
Photo: G. MOORTHY
“Come forth into the light of things.
Let nature be your teacher.”
- William Wordsworth
These words of sagacious nature poet come alive in painter K.C. Murukeson's exploits on canvas. This little known artist from Kallandhiri, a non-descript village 18 kms north of Madurai, too realises how much nature has to offer.
There is little doubt that he finds the verdant locale of his residence more compelling than city life.
“I believe I can carry myself better only in the company of trees and green fields. City life has too many distractions. I am at peace in sylvan surroundings, that is why I shifted from Chennai to my native town,” he shares.
“The definition of poetry applies to all work of art. Painting too takes it origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity and most of my works reflect this essence. My pet subjects are pleasing landscapes, sun and moon,” he explains.
Quite happy to brand himself as landscape painter, Murukeson never fails to capture the images he sees and then pours them out on the canvas as his emotions guide him fully.
“The emotional connect I enjoy with Mother Nature during my daily morning walks flood me with creative ideas. The immediate impulse is to communicate the ecstatic moments to my people through painting,” says Mr. Murukeson.
With former Lt. Governor of Puducherry, Swarup Singh
Passionate about his profession, his love affair with painting started quite early. Being a below average student in academics he was no way less talented. In his endeavour to identify ability, he found an able mentor in drawing master Arokiasamy, who spotted his interest in drawing in school and honed his drawing skills.
Also, it was he who suggested Murukeson to take up the technical examination in drawing so that he became eligible for the post of drawing master in schools. When this was communicated, his father M.K. Chellasamy Ambalam, a freedom fighter, landlord and the then trustee of the Alagarkoil, rendered unconditional support and put him in School of Fine Arts, Madras and later College of Fine Arts with recommendation from Congress leader Kakkan.
Sheer dedication and determination helped him achieve great results as he was one among the five to get a berth in Post-Graduate diploma in painting. “It was a thrilling experience understanding patterns of shape and colour with plenty of scope for experimentation,” he says.
Still he remembers the first sale of his painting titled ‘Flame of the forest' for Rs.150 at the Mysore Dusshera Festival. “It was a painting of a parrot tree in full light. I was thrilled to see my painting in demand. Even now I carry the same excitement when spectators comment and choose my painting for purchase. I do not mind the money I am able to make but I want people to get the message I am trying to communicate,” he turns emotional.
Experimentation with cubism
Like any other painter he also started off his career in this field with realistic portrayals. Realising that if he had to distinguish himself and move on to the next level he should try to explore different avenues, he changed his style and experimented cubistic art. “Deriving motivation from my master at the college, A.P. Santhanaraj, I tried my hand at cubism. He was an outstanding painter as he frequently changed his style. He had a huge student following and hence did not want to stagnate. He introduced new things every week. There would be something new in his paintings every time we saw and now I am following the same rule,” he notes.
With Dr.Karan Singh, president, Indian Council for Cultural Relations in New Delhi
Now he follows a mixed style of cubism and abstract art. “What is the big deal in painting a look alike? A photographer can make a better job. If your contribution has to be there, then you have to be more creative, that is why I choose abstract art. Abstract painting is more to do with the essence of the subject. You retain it and give form to your creativity. Though leaves are generally green in colour, in my painting they are black. Expertise depends on the treatment technique you adopt. From the medium to the tools that you use, everything assumes great significance. More than the subject the technique successfully employed brings laurels to the painter,” he says.
Murukeson uses palette knife for his paintings and his pet colours include Indian yellow, black, Persian blue and cobalt blue. He uses black to show the depth of the field in the painting. He is inspired by Vincent Van Gogh's landscape paintings and M.F. Hussain's techniques. “It all comes by experience. Mr. Hussain can show a running horse with just four strokes. Unless you are familiar with the anatomy of the horse you will not be able to create such an image. Such is his expertise and I try to imbibe the same quality in my works,” he vouches.
His day starts as early as 5.30 a.m. and he just pastes colours on the canvas and uses it as launching pad to develop his subject from that.
“Generally, I am not in the habit of working for a title, I just paint and give title only after finishing the job. There are people who don't give titles for their abstract painting and leave it to the spectators. But I believe in dragging the viewer into the painting and providing him a chance to let loose his imagination. I was the only person among the five in our batch to opt for painting as a profession while the rest drifted to lucrative career options,” he says with pride.
With Mr. Dharuwala of Sarala's Art Centre in Chennai
He is yet to land his foot in a foreign country but his paintings are already popular in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden and Mauritius.
At 66, he spends most of his time relishing the sylvan set up around his house and wishes increased awareness level among the public. “I have more than 100 paintings lying with me now for want of buyers. At no point of time in my life have I faced such precarious situation. I was aghast when a local hotel group sought to buy my paintings for Rs.100. People should at least be able to appreciate the labour behind my work,” he emphasises.
With no one to follow his legacy as his wards are not interested in painting except the eldest son who is into interior designing, he still bubbles with enthusiasm.
Has organised 25 one man shows.
Part of five group shows.
Has won Senior Fellowship (visual art) from the Ministry of Culture, Govt of India.
Has won ‘Kalai Nanmani’ State award.
Has won First prize silver plaque, All India Khadi – Industrial Exhibition, Chennai; Tamil Nadu State Lalit Kala Akademi Award.
Won Award at Ceramic design-cum-modelling competition, Chennai.
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