தமிழ்த் தேசியம்

"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."

- Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Home > Culture & the Tamil Contribution to World Civilisation  > Sathyam Art Gallery > Thirukural in Paintings

Thirukural in Paintings

[see also Thirukural of Thiruvalluvar]


On 1 January 2000, at the dawn of the millenium, a 133 tall statute of Thiruvalluvar was ceremonially unveiled at Kanyakumari. The height of the statute symbolised the 133 chapters of the Thirukural. This was also the occasion for an exhibition of 133 paintings - each depicting a chapter of the Kural and painted by artists from Tamil Nadu.  Rediffusion on the Net reported on 29 January 2000:

"....R B Bhaskaran, the principal of Fine Arts College, had the difficult task of co-ordinating the artists and also painting one chapter. "The idea to have an ancient poet's view of the world through the eyes of contemporary artists is great. It really surprised me to see people queuing up in Kanyakumari to see the 133 paintings after the inauguration."

Adhimoolam, one of the most famous Tamil painters, illustrated the first chapter. His work is the most impressive of all. "As a Tamilian, I am familiar with Valluvar and his kurals. Valluvar did not talk about any particular race, religion, caste or creed...he talked only about human beings.''

He believes that the kurals have a broader appeal that transcends barriers of language, culture and community. ''There is a kind of universality in his writings. I had always felt that he belonged to the world and not to the Tamilians alone.''

Adhimoolam said it was quite a challenge to create something that would match Valluvar's work. ''He was such a great poet... it is very difficult to match his ideas with illustrations. His thoughts and words are beyond illustration. Yet, I have put my heart and mind to it. As I was given the first chapter, I was to paint his concept of God. He referred to God as Almighty like the first letter in the alphabet, Aah. As an artist who lives in the 21st century, I feel fortunate to have painted his ideas."

Achuthan Kudaloor, an abstract artist from Kerala, was assigned the second chapter -- Rain. Some time back, Achuthan had thought of illustrating the works of Malayalam poet, Kumaran Asan, but the idea was scoffed at by his fellow artistes. "See how effective these paintings on Thirukkural are. What I liked about Thiruvalluvar was that he stood for humanity and not for any race or religion. I feel happy that I, an abstract painter, could be a part of this venture."

S Dhanapal, although was familiar with Thirukkural, thought about the chapter he had to illustrate for two days. "One must know what each kural actually means because you can interpret each idea at various levels. If you have to go deep into it, you need deep knowledge. I feel images are very good tools to make ordinary people understand the meaning of Thiruvallular's ideas. After doing one painting, I feel like doing more on Thirukkural."

Ravi Shankar, who is trying to explore new vistas in painting with the help of computers, attempted a new experiment. "I did a computer drawing and then used acrylic emulsion in the printer and took a 4ft/3ft print. The only grievance I have is that I was not given adequate time to work. "

Sajitha decided to look at the meaning behind the kurals from a critic's point of view. "I was given the chapter on love. It is amazing that a man who lived thousands of years ago viewed love from such a radical angle. I feel I am fortunate to have got a chance to give expression to his ideas in colour."

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