Published on Sunday, October 9, 2016
Creativity at its best with Lines and Colours
Reshmy Krishnakumar; Photo: Anwar Sadath Thalasserry
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He paints for his joy, he paints for his satisfaction, he speaks through his paintings and his creativity knows no limits. His dreams gain life on his canvas. For the last three years he has been continuously touching the nostalgic senses of the viewers through his painting series named as ‘Ormakalil’, which means ‘in the memories’, where he portrays the life he had in his native place. Each image tells us a story of his time which his friends and fellowmen vouch to be the exact replica of what they have experienced and witnessed in those days. IIK is happy to share the moments we spent with this blessed artist in Kuwait, Mr. Sunil Pookkode, hailing from Kannur district of Kerala.

IIK: Welcome Mr. Sunil, to the platform of Tell us more about your painting series ‘Ormakalil’.

Thank You for giving me such an opportunity. During my childhood days, even though I got engaged in the usual games of any other village boy, my sole sincere interest was drawing and I use to practice it. Those beautiful days gave me a good collection of frames which got registered in my mind. At a point of time I felt that all those frames should be transferred to canvas before it get erased with age. Thus I immediately started working on the series and since it is taken from my memories, I named it as ‘Ormakalil’. Now my only aim is to copy all those images in memory to paper as fast as possible. After all we all are human and uncertainty of life is a fact. Almost 180 paintings are over.

IIK: What is the medium used for this series? Which is your favourite medium to work with?

Ormakalil is done with watercolour. I believe that for an artist, the ability to play with lines is most important than colouring. A drawing has to be complete in itself where colours add to its beauty. Actually, I work with almost all media including oil and mixed media, as per the requirement. Still, my personal favourite is watercolour. It is easy to handle and economically feasible. The chance of spoilage due to drying up of the media is less. Even if the brush is left unattended for some time, it won’t affect your work. Water base makes it more flexible to work with.

IIK: The series carries a shirt specifically designed for you. What is so special about that shirt?

I had such a shirt with similar design and the specialty is that it has an emotional attachment. You know why? It gives the memories of my childhood where I had only that shirt to wear for any occasion. Usually we don’t wear the same shirt on a wedding eve and the wedding day. But I had no other option. That painful memory of ‘Sunil’, as a child, tempted me to place myself in the series with that shirt. Later it developed as my identity in those paintings and now it has grown as the identity of my paintings itself even without a signature.

IIK: So is this series ‘Ormakalil’ a sort of autobiography? Do you have any such intention to compile it?

While starting the series I just wanted to paint the memories. We don’t have to draw today’s life to keep it forever. We have lots of cameras. Anyone can take any number of photographs. My intention was to paint those days when camera was not popular. As I told before, the frames which I draw are only with me and I am actually taking print of those pictures which are registered in my memory as a photograph. But as I progressed through the process, I noticed that it was as good as narrating my own story. Many people suggested having this as a published work. I totally agree to it, may be later, I will compile all these as an autobiography. But I am not in a rush with such an aim. Let it happen when time comes. Now I simply want to draw from my memory as much as possible.

IIK: How you decide that you have to draw which frame and when. What leads you to fix the frame?
As I told you, all these frames are my experiences and are present in my memory as paintings. All of them are planned in mind as ‘to be drawn’ sometime or the other. Some frames I plan with me placed in it and some others as if I am the one who is seeing it. Accordingly I arrange it in my mind before I put in paper. I should say I have installed a ‘photoshop’ in my mind for the arrangement of components in a picture. For me, each frame is a recap of the related story or event which helps me in detailing. Whatever is the case, when I sit with paper and colours the process of copying the images from mind to canvas in usually instinctive. Regarding which image is to be drawn, no preplans will work out when mind flows thru lines and colours.

IIK: Instead of keeping for an exclusive exhibition, you have been posting Ormakalil on Facebook. Don’t you fear the reposting of them as the own creation of some other person?

I don’t think of an exhibition just because I don’t want to deviate from this track. I can use that time also for drawing. Also exhibition is to exhibit our piece of work to the public and the same effect I am getting by posting on Facebook. Or even more reach than an indoor exhibition hall. Facebook is a wide platform and opportunity for me. The scope of it is tremendous and each of my pictures is getting benefit of that wide reach. There may be people who repost it as theirs. But I don’t bother about that. Such fake ownerships won’t stand long for an art form like this. Once we post anything on social media, it is gone; anyone can do anything with that. There is no use in worrying over it. Those who see the series, posted on my Facebook wall, one after the other continuously, will know the truth and that makes it difficult for anyone to own it. As an added security, though unknowingly, now my shirt serves as my identity in each picture.

IIK: How is the response from your friends, family and others? Any feedback from the Arab community?

My children enjoy these series a lot. It is through these paintings they get to know about my childhood. They are really surprised to see the life during those days which is getting unveiled to them. They also recognize me in the picture with that designed shirt. I meet my old friends and classmates when I go for vacation. They are so happy to see the paintings of real time events which
we enjoyed together long back. They too relive the moment on each painting. Since I am posting all pictures on Facebook, I get immediate response from all over the world. That includes even the strangers on my followers list. All are happy to see those paintings as they can identify it to their own memories. I have seen Europeans commenting on it. I have not taken a special interest to show it to any particular community since Ormakalil is exclusively on a nostalgic Kerala background. Others may not be able to enjoy it as we do. I have done many such Arab background paintings also before. But no specific response. May be they have not seen them

IIK: Which one of these touched you the most?

All of them are my favorites which gave a special feeling beyond explanation while drawing. Even then, the one in which I painted my father feeding me is the most emotionally attached one.

IIK: Abstract paintings are not self-explanatory. Tell us your view on abstract painting. It is something which stands away from general public.

A normal painting is usually the reproduction of those registered pictures in the mind of an artist. Abstract is a totally different theory of creation. You have to have some real strong theme and concepts in your mind to make an abstract. There are people who don’t even accept abstracts as an art form. But as far as I am concerned it has meaning and it conveys many things to the viewers which the artist want to communicate. The creation solely depends on the artist and even the texture and colour has its own significance. An abstract can be read only by those who really have the taste and training on colours and hues. It needs a different level of thought process to understand. For that reason it is definitely at a distance from general public but has got its own popularity among those who really enjoys it. Limitations in terms of appreciation are there, when compared to series like Ormakalil which are readily readable for anyone. Exhibition is a powerful tool to educate art lovers to enjoy abstracts. The more you have chances to expose to abstract painting the more you will be able to understand and interpret it. We have to take extra effort to take it to exhibition gallery to make it popular. The five year course in Fine Arts included such training. I like to draw abstracts.

IIK: So don’t you think that even after all these struggles and pains to portray an abstract which reflects the artist’s feelings, it goes in vain by not getting the expected response or even a mis-interpretation of the concept of artist.

Once the painting is presented to the pubic then it is open to all. As an artist we don’t have to worry about how people are going to read it. At the beginning itself we know that it is going to be read in thousand different perspectives. Those who are really interested to know, they will come and ask, and for them the artist can explain. I just leave it for the viewers to read and understand as per their whims and fancies.

IIK: Tell us about your concept of drawing? How do you find yourself after these many years of experience?

According to my mother I was an observant child and started drawing at an earlier age, even before schooling. She describes how passionate I was about going with her to town and observing the surroundings. At school I got extra care and training from my drawing teachers. Later I joined Kerala School of Art at Thalasseri which helped a lot in refining my skills. With experience I grew. 3D painting on walls is a recent development in my career as part of interior decorations after reaching Kuwait. The innovative carving done on plaster of paris was my own idea which I experimented here. But my passion and soul is always in our usual style of artistic creations. I am happy that my hard work during the initial stages is getting paid now. What I am today is the result of all that.

IIK: How do you see the business prospect of this field?

In the current world any art form can have a business perspective. In a way it is good when your passion is your profession. But to market your art is an art in itself. If you don’t master it, your business will not be success. As far as I am concerned, I have a job in Kuwait which meets my financial requirements and for that reason I can have the privilege to take ‘Ormakalil’ as my sole priority now. Also, as I am using watercolor, I don’t incur much expense to think of an extra income to support me. So for the time being, no business intentions.

IIK: Recently you have made an entry to Malayalam film industry too. Can you tell us about that experience?

Malayalam film industry is not new to me. In the film Sadayam directed by Sibi Malayil, where Mohanlal played the role of an artist, the signboards which were shown as his work were actually done by me. It was highly appreciated by all. Recently what I did is the title work for the film Hallelooya directed by Sudhi Aanna.

IIK: What is your dream project other than Ormakalil?

I have many ideas in my mind which I have kept aside for the time being. One such dream is to paint the ‘scenes or life during night’. I would like to have a permanent gallery for Ormakalil in Kerala. I devote all my free time to complete Ormakalil series which is my only goal, as of now.

IIK: What will be your message to the aspiring artist?

The ultimate aim of any art form is joy, both for the artist and the viewers. At the same time an artist has the responsibility to react to the social circumstances. I believe it can make some ripples in the society. In painting, whatever be the medium you choose, the creation should have the power to catch the attention of viewers for a longer period rather than having a glance and leave. The onlookers should feel good and experience the oneness with the painting as a whole with colour combination, blending, theme etc. If talent is there, lots of practice with simple guidance can take anyone to heights.

Thank You for your valuable time and all the very best for your dreams
Reshmy Krishnakumar is working with Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR) as Research Assistant. Having done her post-graduation in Statistics, she worked as lecturer at St.Teresa’s College, Ernakulam, until her relocation to Kuwait. As a freelance writer, she is contributing to various magazines, blogs, and websites. Her passion includes classical dance, writing poems in Malayalam and Hindi. She is a member of the Writers’ Forum, Kuwait and the Indian Women In Kuwait (IWIK)
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Express your comment on this article
Suresh V Balakrishnan
Posted on Thursday, November 3, 2016
Dear Artist
You have touched my heart, and that exactly for me is the certification for your creativity. You look at life in its rustic and pure form. Your paintings are not bombarded with thick layers of bright colours. Life is in plenty in them. Sometimes the major share of your canvass just becomes a mere background for the rare moments you depict in one small neglected corner of it. I am impressed with the way you have depicted the emotions of that little boy who was denied the chance to be among those who are posing for the photographs. A moment I even thought had it been me, and don't know why my eyes grew wet. Yes this world has many stories of denials to say. It tells them through you, your canvass, your creativity. All the best for all that you do for a better world for tomorrow.

stephen varughese joseph
Posted on Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Dear sir,
These painting are very beautiful and has exact details .. thank you for sharing your talent through this post

Sunil Pookode
Posted on Thursday, October 20, 2016
my contact no 66776364

Posted on Tuesday, October 18, 2016
Sir, It's an excellent work done by you. So touching and feel the reality in each picture.
Do you teach paintings? I really wish to learn. Please do let know if any classes conducted.

Posted on Tuesday, October 11, 2016
beautiful paintings, amazing. very talented artist.
M B Suresh Kumar
Posted on Tuesday, October 11, 2016
Dear Sunil,
I am an artist living in Bangalore, my parents are from Trisshur. I have lived all my 48 years in Bangalore. But i can relate to every detail in your painting. Life of a middle class family in Kerala a few years ago is something i have also seen a bit. But your memory and ability to observe is amazing. It is extremely joyful to see a new painting when you post on FB. Good luck, hope to meet you some day.

Posted on Monday, October 10, 2016
Great work Sunil. Really beautiful. Just like seeing a movie. Pictures are so live. God Bless You.
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