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Mouth and Foot Painters Enthrall Visitors with Live Session at Biennale

In Entertainment, Kochi
March 20, 2017

Inspiring the Sunday crowd at Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB) 2016 with a demonstration of their unique art talents, a group of eight mouth and foot painters conducted a live painting session here today at Aspinwall House.
The artMouth&foot painters (2)ists, who are recognised by the Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists of the World (AMFPA), held court for three hours at the architectural pavilion in the primary Biennale venue. Five artists who paint with their mouths and three who use their feet showcased their craft at the event, which was organised by Indian Mouth and Foot Painting Artists (IMFPA) – the Indian faction of the international organisation.
When his hands and feet were paralysed due to polio at the age of seven, Ganesh Kumar, the first artist to register with IMFPA, started drawing using his mouth to express himself. “For me everyone has an artist inside, and it is important to let out your positivity discarding the limitation of physical disability and let out your creative expressions to keep others and ourselves content,” said Kumar, who has over 5,000 paintings to his name.
“I think artists like us have a greater freedom than artists who are moulded through institutions and art schools as they are instructed to follow certain methods and practices, while we have a lot of updated information about various art practices and forms from the Internet and other sources that we can use according to individual priorities,” he added.
That was evident in the diversity of artistic production at the show. While the more experienced artists painted abstract works or expressed dissent against the marginalisation and sidelining of the differently-abled, there were also renderings of landscapes.
Nature acts as a muse for foot painter Jilu Maria Thomas from Thodupuzha, the youngest artist in the group. “Even if my method of expression is different, my passion towards my craft is the same as that of anyone else. I opt to see the natural beauty in things instead of focusing on the negative and that comes through in my work,” the 25-year-old said.
Jilu is among the newest members of IMFPA, which lends support to 21 foot and mouth artists by digitising their paintings and marketing them on merchandise besides maki
ng them available online to buy. There are over 800 mouth and foot painting artists worldwide.
“Our motto is ‘self help, no charity’. The artists want to be self-independent and recognised like any artist would,” says Bobby Thomas, an IMFPA member.
To that end, platforms like the Biennale are very significant, Kumar said, because “they prove that differently-abled artists are no less to professional or regular artists”. “You can see that from their paintings,” Kumar said.