Express news service
KOCHI: When Nithin KP paints, he doesn’t just draw a picture or recreate a scene he’s encountered. It opens a portal to a different time and space. The term “forgotten times” comes to mind when looking at Nithin’s artwork. The culture and life of North Kerala greatly influenced the artwork of this Kannur native.
In his painting of a traditional Malabar house, Nithin painstakingly added details to create a living, breathing house with a vast orchard and quiet occupants. The great Nalukettu of yesteryear stands proudly in the evening sun. Coconuts and a basket rest in the courtyard, a white cloth dries in the evening sun. The great coucal, a regular visitor, sits atop a mound of straw. Many of these items are rare in today’s world.
“I want people to feel like they are part of the painting. That’s why I try to create a whole atmosphere with my works. From the evening sun to the wilderness of a Kaavu, I draw every detail so that the painting can help viewers experiment with my imagination, ”explains Nithin, who works as an assistant artistic director under artist Ajayan Chalissery.
His love for Theyyam is evident in his repertoire. His many types – Baali, Pottan, Kathivanoor Veeran – are part of his ongoing series. “I grew up watching Theyyam. The different hues, the adornments, its rhythm and drums, the way the performances bring the night to life, the experience of witnessing the height of the cult of dance – it all made an unforgettable impression on me. Whenever I hear about a Theyyam performance, I always rush to watch it, ”says Nithin.
Baali Theyyam is closely linked to his life and culture, the artist explains. In one of his paintings, the eyes of a Baali figure emerge from the bushes, artfully. In another painting on the Theyyam Kathivannoor Veeran, the figure is portrayed as the epitome of love, surrounded by red flowers and green elephant leaves, as he beckons to hold Chemmarathy’s hands. The moon is the witness of their tragic love, portrayed in a rather surreal way by Nithin, in the company of dragonflies which wander at dusk.
“I started working as an assistant artistic director with Ajayan Chalissery in 2019. My work in the cinema has greatly influenced my works. I learned to pay more attention to details, ”explains the young artist, who has always been interested in art. “I studied fine arts after grade 12. Even though I had drawn since I was a child, the fine arts made me take painting seriously, ”explains Nithin.
Nithin takes about two months to complete each painting. This is the time it takes for him to bring his imagination to the fore. “My schedule also prevents me from sitting with my iPad for a long time,” Nithin quipped. He started his foray into digital works with a phone app. But even the works of art he made at the time, with minimal resources, are of incredible quality and lots of detail. “I am more concerned with quality than quantity”, explains the artist.