Nandan P V seeks to send a social message beyond artistry when he uses charcoal to sketch the varied living beings on earth. The master tacitly cautions fellow humans against destroying their environs by polluting and destroying resources.
At his workshop on drawing wildlife using lightweight pieces of carbon, the middle-aged artist speaks to the participants about animals and their key features. “It is important to understand the basics of an animal: its structure, anatomy, general behavior and habitat,” says Nandan, 54, seated around children at the art room in Cabral Yard, a key venue of the ongoing Kochi-Muziris Biennale.
Sunday marks the start of Nandan’s four-day workshop being organised as part of the Kochi Biennale Foundation’s arts education programme called ABC (Art By Children) amid the fourth edition of the 108-day festival that began on December 12.
Nature has been a source of inspiration in the artistic practice of Kochiite Nandan, who has been drawing wildlife for the past 20 years. “Nature has always fascinated me. I have been capturing its beauty on my canvases,” explains the teacher who taught art to kids for 28 years before becoming a full-time artist. “I started painting wildlife as an ode to the various forms of exploitation they suffer due to us humans.”
How come charcoal as the medium? “Well, charcoal is used much the same way as a pencil. It’s a tool for drawing, shading and blending, but there is something psychologically different about using charcoal,” he explains. “Charcoal-sticks, especially, can force you to focus on large shapes and general contours because of their blunt ends.”
Aditya Vinod, 12, and his friend Samuel Thomas are among the participants at the workshop. The duo from Fort Kochi are enjoying the information they are getting about different wild animals. “Nandan sir has spent time in many wildlife camps, we are told. He is sharing interesting anecdotes about animals,” says Aditya. “For instance, about the bison, which looks like an aggressive animal but is actually very shy.”
Chimes in Samuel: “We also learnt about how to capture the physical features of the animal on our canvas.”
Sandhya Rajesh, a software engineer from Kakkanad on Kochi’s outskirts, says she was holding a charcoal stick for the first time in life. “It a great experience.”
Animal forms come alive when Nandan draws, says Famita Farhana, an 11-year-old from downtown Ernakulam. “I am fascinated by the way the bison, deer, elephants and other animals come alive when the teacher draws on the canvas,” she says. “I hope someday I could draw in a similar fashion.”
The January 6-9 workshop finds participation from adults as well. Blaise Joseph, who heads the ABC programme, points out that grow-ups too show love interest in learning new art-forms and exploring new mediums. “The participants are really very excited,” he says. “They are learning as much as they can at these workshops.”
Nandan finds it “great” to be part of an international platform that the biennale is. “I can see that all the participants have an inclination to art,” he notes. “Definitely, basic understanding of it.”
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