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Kerala murals on show

A group of artists are showcasing paintings based on the legendary temple murals.


AN EXHIBITION and sale of paintings based on the legendary temple murals of Kerala is on at Alankrita Antiques and Hand-Crafted Arts.

A study of the evolution of mural painting in India traces it from Ajanta to Kerala. Kerala's murals are on par with those at Sittanavasal, Badami, Lepakshi, Tanjavur, and Vijayanagar. In fact, there are similarities between the styles of Kerala and the murals of Sittanavasan and Lepakshi.


Kerala's mural tradition reached its apogee between the 16th and 19th Centuries. Though there is not much documentary evidence, experts have classified the murals into three phases, just as they have classified its temple architecture — early (800-1000 A.D.), middle (1001-1301), and late (1301-1800). In the last phase, with the incorporation of wood carvings and paintings on temple walls, a balance was forged between architecture and decorative art.

The traditional mural paintings were done only in five colours — yellow, red, green, black, and white. White was the base itself and the remaining were pigments derived from stones and leaves. The walls themselves underwent an elaborate preparatory process and there are instances of murals still glowing after 1,500 years.


The paintings, usually on the walls of the sanctum sanctorum, depicted deities from the Hindu pantheon. While the human figures were highly stylised, animals and birds were painted in more naturalistic postures. Such stylised facial expression and gestures trace their origin to the theatrical elements in the performing arts of Koodiyattam and Kathakali. Wide-open, round eyes, elongated painted lips, exaggerated eyebrows, dramatic body postures, and over-ornamentation are typical of the mural paintings.


A group of artists, who have done work on wall murals in various Kerala temples, including some very commendable paintings are Kumaranallur, have transferred some of their artwork on paper. The show is on at Alankrita, 22, Cubbon Road (Off Union Street), Phone: 2861836/2863164, on February 21 and 22 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m..

Those who can't make it to the show can contact artist Ramesh M. at 5296905 or rameshmanghat@hotmail.com

S.R.

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