by Y. S. Paurnami.
Can a beautiful song ever be related to or compared with an attractive painting? Apart from the obvious explanation that both capture our attention, are there secret bonds between them? These questions may never be answered by theories of aesthetics. Having this riddle in mind let us meet Majo, a young artist from Kodali, a small village in the Trichur district of Kerala. In him both sound and colour fall in proper places. He is an excellent radio announcer in All India Radio with an additional talent in painting and photography.
Despite having the twin talents Majo’s life has never been kind to him. His early life was not a colourful one. He had financial difficulties, and to tide over the problems he had to do many errand jobs including distribution of newspapers. Perhaps, during those days he never got an occasion to offer himself to aesthetic pleasures.
After completion of his graduation, when he took to photography in the Gulf countries fate once again caught him unawares. To his utter shock he understood that his kidneys were not functioning properly. He came back home to treat the disease. It was during those days of agony that he discovered the artist in him. He had a wonderful voice which propelled him to become a casual announcer in All India Radio, Trichur. Somehow he managed to hold on to his profession and continue the treatment of the disease which had snatched away the lives of many in his family, including his mother. He was determined not to bow before the fate. When the doctor suggested Kidney transplantation as the best bet to beat the ailment both father and his only son, Majo, fell in despondency. They knew they would have to sell off the last piece of land to find the money required for the costly treatment.
Here comes the real turn in his story. After the transplantation surgery he went through a long convalescence period of silence and solitude. To face the poignant loneliness he took to reading Malayalam literature. The characters of Malayalam novelists, M.T. Vasudevan Nair and Vaikkkom Muhammed Basheer, woke up the dormant artist in him. Soon he started sketching them in his note book. He saw his black ink pen arriving at wonderful illustrations in the white papers provided to him by his friends. In a span of two years he completed around three hundred sketches. Water colour was his next medium, in which he tried scenic landscapes. His initiation to the traditional murals of Kerala was done by N.B. Latha Devi, an artist and art teacher. She suggested that the mural style of art had a greater commercial potential, and therefore, would help him in his financial needs. Since then Majo has been experimenting in murals, water colour, acrylic, and fabric paints.
Majo chose the traditional costumes of Kerala, like SETTUMUNDU, KERALA SARI, and JUBBA as the space to draw the murals. Later on he tried his painting on non-Kerala costumes like CHOORIDAR, KURTHA as well. He did a number of paintings in the Buddha series, which is quite popular as decorative pieces in the interiors of buildings. His paintings are well-liked both by laymen as well as connoisseurs, and at present he is able to get an income to meet his medical expenses.
Despite his success among art lovers he has not been able to give an exhibition so far. This inability is primarily because he doesn’t have a collection of his own works with him. The moment a painting is finished he is eager to sell it off, so as to pay of the medical bills. Don’t we, a civilized society that boasts of having an art-culture, have a responsibility to help this self-taught artist?