Friday, April 19, 2013

Picturing vintage architecture

It was a bright afternoon. Sitting alongside a street at Mattanchery, 10-year-old Achuthan was immersed in painting one of his favourite pictures. Soon the crowd swelled. Undaunted by the overwhelming presence of people around him, he completed his picture. It was then he realised that his painting session had created a minor traffic block. Ask if he was aghast by the incident, he says mischievously “I was just concentrating on my painting. I did not realise until my father told me about it.” 

Unlike other young artists of his age, Achuthan Shenoy loves to paint old buildings in monochromatic sepia. It was a skill that he imbibed from his father. He has also taken the huge responsibility of imprinting the heritage through his painting, like his father. “The age-old buildings are mercilessly demolished. We can learn a lot about our past through these buildings. Hence my attempt is to absorb our heritage on a canvas,” says Achuthan.

He explains that most of the artists paint with the combination of many colours to create a sepia tone. But that cannot be called monochromatic sepia but just sepia. “My father creates the sepia tone with just one colour and hence the name. I too follow that.”

The young artist was ardently following his passion for the past one year.  Achuthan assisted his father in 15 sites before attempting himself in this forte. “Since I am small, my father paints the outer sketch and I give light and shade to it,” he says.

So far, Achuthan has drawn about 15 paintings of old buildings of Mattanchery and Fort Kochi. Though he was giving colours to age-old buildings which can of course be considered as  monuments, he is not a bit scared that it would go wrong. “I know the techniques to rectify the mistakes,” he says.

The young artist says that he also paints every angles of a building. “It will help a person who is new to the city identify the building from any angle,” he says. Besides painting old buildings, he would also like to draw sky, his another favourite subject. Among his 15 pictures, his all time favourite is the 300 year old Portuguese building which is now converted into a home stay.

Ask him why he wanted to become a painter he says, “I want to be famous.”  The dream to become a painter kindled in him, once Achuthan saw his father being interviewed. “If I become famous I will be interviewed like my father,” he says. But Achutan did not have to wait too long, as he was interviewed by BBC crew who reached Fort Kochi to document Kochi - Muziris Biennale. The documentary will have shots of Achuthan painting in the street.

Though Achuthan is indisputably a painter in the making, he has not participated in any competitions. “I do not want to participate in competitions. I just want to draw without any inhibition,” he says.

Apart from monochromatic painting, his another passion is music. Achutha Shenoy is the son of Dinesh R Shenoy and Asha Shenoy.

published in The New Indian Express

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