Subash breaks away from tradition, turns newspaper into canvas
Kozhikode: When you hear the words ‘Art exhibition’, generally, you would imagine a few paintings on canvases done by a particular artist on display for many to see and appreciate.
Well, this particular artist definitely has some art on display but none of them are on canvases or even paintings for that matter. Artist Subash Thodayam breaks away from the traditional conventions.
After a show in Ernakulum in 2016, this is Subash’s second exhibition of his current series of art work which include drawings created using coloured gel pens on newspapers. His drawings are made on newspapers of various languages such as Malayalam, Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, Marathi, Kannada, Punjabi and Telugu. Besides these, he has done works on Arabic and Urdu newspapers.
“I used to collect newspapers from the places I visit… as a little memory. Then I got the idea for a little experiment like this and went ahead with it. I’ve been working on this series for over 4 years now,” said the artist.
Subash also had friends bring him papers from places they visit. He then depicts the cultural diversity and sometimes even social issues that pertain to the region the newspaper originates from, using the newspaper as a canvas.
For this series, Subash has only used gel pens with shades of green and orange. He said, “As newspapers are very delicate, it’s very hard to paint on them and so I have used coloured gel pens. The reason I have used just two shades - green and orange - is because after trying out other colours, I found that these two work best for contrast on the newspaper and to help highlight the work well.”
He also burns the edges of the newspapers as a final touch, highlighting his final piece. Once a work is complete they are framed immediately to avoid the papers from absorbing moisture which would damage the drawings.
“My father was an artist, so I’ve been involved with art work since I was quite young,” said the Shornur native. He has also completed his BFA (Bachelors in Fine Arts) degree from Karnataka University.
Subash is currently a teacher at GHSS Kunnakkavu, Perinthalmanna, Malappuram. Interestingly enough, he does not teach art but English there. But he encourages his students who have an interest in art and even takes classes for them occasionally.
Asked whether he would take up his craft as a full-time profession, Subash said “I personally feel that I’m not there yet. Also, it’s not easy to be a full-time artist in Kerala. There are very few people who have taken it up as a profession and gotten quite successful. Again, it’s not impossible but very difficult.”
Subash also added that one of the main reasons for this problem is the lack of appreciation for an artist’s efforts. He believes that Kerala has not yet adopted the kind of culture where artists are highly recognized and acknowledged. “People don’t buy art from artists much or encourage them these days. It may take us a while to get there, said the artist.
Subash plans to continue working on this series for longer, “I’ll probably stick to this series for a while, I want to explore it more and experiment on more foreign language newspapers like German or Japanese.”
Subash’s ‘Papiro art show’ exhibits are on display at the Kerala Lalithakala Academy Art Gallery from 15th to 19th May, 2019. The exhibition will be open from 11 am to 7 pm.