Artist G.Azhicode, a devotee of the Art, recreates the beauty of the mural tradition of Kerala. His basic trend is the Indian view that line is the soul of drawing. He is a recipient of the Senior Fellowship, Ministry of Culture, Government of India recently.
The mural tradition evolved universally as a complement to her unique architectural style. Painting in India in ancient days was made on walls. The popular saying ‘No walls and no painting’ corroborates it. Famous examples of classical murals are those at Ajanta, Bagh, Badami Sittannavasal, while the medievals style is seen at Ellora, the Brihadiswara temple in Thanjavur and Virabhadra temple at Lepakshi. Numerous temples and palaces in regions as diverse as Himalayas, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Kerala have murals of a later period.
In India, painted walls have always been the usual form of decoration both in sacred and secular building. Extensive literary records of ancient murals exist in Indian literature. The interiors of ancient Indian temples and palatial buildings were plain compared to the exterior and offered an obvious ground for painting. Frames or mouldings did generally not circumscribe this. It continued to cover the entire surface and flowed from one wall on to another in an organic way undivided by harsh barriers. The large surfaces were used for the depiction of epic themes, myths and beliefs known and loved. This made the mural as on art form to be an expression of a comparatively homogeneous society.
A mural is an orchestration of aesthetic sensibilities put to work in balance with the dramas immediately brings to mind.The caves at Ajanta give relevance to this art form’s function as a social and environmental entity. Primitive man’s depiction of fantasies, decoration and magic symbols was quite consciously undertaken.
Reality of the Wall
The State of Kerala holds the second place in having the largest collection of archeologically important mural sites, the first being Rajasthan. The mural traditional of Kerala evolved as a complement to her unique architectural style.The Kerala School of painting represents the final and fading phase of Indian traditional painting. These wall paintings are characterized by their liner accuracy, the adherence to colour symbolism, elaborate ornamentations and sensitive portrayal of emotions.
The Kerala mural style could trace its roots to the ancient Dravidian art of Kalamezhuthu or pigment art. Subject for the murals were derived from religious text. Palace and temple murals were peopled with ‘highly styled pictures of Gods and Goddesses of the Hindu pantheon. Flora and fauna are picturized as backdrop. Impact of dotted shading and effect of beaded outlines in murals are most important.
From Thirunandikkara in the south till Kumpazha in the north there are about 150 centres where murals are found. Here we have four distinct styles, viz, the ancient Ajantha style, The Old Kerala style, The Guruvayur style and the modern style.
Generally the frescos are painted on the walls of granite or laterite after they are suitably prepared. The unique feature of the mural painting is that only natural colours are used. The natural colours and the brushes needed are made out of materials easily available locally in Kerala.
In mural painting, only five colours namely Yellow ocher, Indian red, Indigo, Sab green, and lamp-black are generally used. The pigments in solutions are generally prepared and kept in the lower halves of coconut shells. As there is no special white color, possibility of other colors encroaching that area should be avoided by taking meticulous precautions.No colors should be used after drawing black lines.
The abundance of lines is a feature of Kerala murals. The linear rhythms of Indian art are retained zealously like a ritual by the contemporary artists. The black lines bring the colors to life. Their application is called Karuppezhuthu.