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Extending the frontiers of Kerala's mural art

K. K. GOPALAKRISHNAN

Mammiyur Krishnan Kutty Nair Asan Foundation aims at rejuvenating Kerala's tradition of mural art.



REAWAKENING: Mammiyur Krishnan Kutty Nair Asan Foundation, Thrissur, held the first all-Kerala mural camp.

Kerala has a very rich tradition of murals. For instance, the murals at Thodikkalam Temple, near Thalassery in Kannur district, dates back to the 16th century and is said to be the only one that depicts Sankaracharya. Until recently this rich heritage was confined to the walls of temples.

Reviving a heritage

It was the late Mammiyur Krishnan Kutty Nair, doyen of modern mural art in Kerala, who gave a new life to it during the last quarter of the twentieth century. By finding space for mural art outside the temples, he advocated for its recognition as a legacy.

In was in his memory that the Mammiyur Krishnan Kutty Nair Asan Foundation, Thrissur, held the first all-Kerala mural camp recently. Founded by his first batch of students (1989-94) from Guruvayoor School, the foundation in honour of Mammiyur Krishnan Kutty Nair, was formed early this year.

According to Suresh Muthukulam, head of the mural department at Vasthu Vidyagurukulam at Aranmula, there is a misconception about murals in Kerala.

"This exists even among some painters from Kerala. They believe the tradition is extinct. Most of them have not heard of Mammiyur Krishnan Kutty Nair Asan's efforts to preserve the art form or of the mural school under the aegis of Guruvayoor Devaswam, which was formed in 1989," he says.

Says P.K. Sadanandan, president of Mammiyur Krishnan Kutty Nair Asan Foundation, "We intend to conduct similar camps at various parts of the country and hold exhibitions that speak of the relevance and existence of this rich tradition in Kerala."

According to Sadanandan, the purpose of the camp is to take Kerala's tradition of mural art outside the precincts of temples. It also hopes to introduce the tradition as a live and rich heritage.

Ajithan Puthumana, Babu K.R., Basanth Peringode, Gopi Chevayur, Krishnan K.S., Saju Thuruthil and Suresh K. Nair were the other participants of the camp.

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