Tribal artist from Nilgiris gives Chennaiites tips to make natural colours


M T Saju,CHENNAI: A couple of weeks ago, when Krishnan and his team comprising Balasubramani and Kalpana from Vellaricombai, a Kurumba tribal hamlet in the Nilgiris, started their journey to Chennai with paintings they drew using natural colours, they also brought with them small packets of mud, stone and leaves from the forest.

The idea was to show the people in the city how they produce natural paints from these material. So when the paintings are displayed at the Vennirul Art Gallery, CP Art Centre, Krishnan keeps the samples of mud, rocks and leaves in separate bowls in the same hall. He explains to those who ask about it how they produce the colours they wish with these material.

Krishnan is the one and only surviving artist in the Kurumba community who inherited the traditional art from his ancestors. He now trains people from his community. The new works are the result of this unity. At least 130 works in various sizes and colours depicting man’s coexistence with nature have been exhibited.

“These painting are the results of our hard work and dedication. Some works take a long time to finish. Since we don’t use any artificial method, it’s always a challenge to produce all works in natural colours,” said Krishnan, who learnt the art of drawing from his grandfather Mathan when he was six years old.

Unlike many other art exhibition venues, here the artists are busy with their new works. Krishnan is busy with a huge work, which he wants to finish it in two days. Balasubramani and Kalpana are also involved in their works. Even though the paintings look simple, they take a lot of time to get into proper shape. “Some works take a long time – may be, two or three days. It depends on the colours and designs we choose,” says Balasubramani.

Krishnan, however, is a bit upset. He has sold only a couple of works from the 130 works that have been exhibited. “I charge only Rs 900 for a big work. But still, people don’t rush to see our works the way they do with the usual art exhibitions. I don’t know why,” he says.


Author: madhubaganiar

Madhubaganiar loves to write on social issues especially for downtrodden segment of Indian society.

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