The process of creating an art work excites me, says artist V Ramankutty

Dr V Ramankutty with the works showcased at his exhibition at Amuseum | Photo Credit: SPECIAL PACKAGE

“I think I am getting better,” says Dr V Ramankutty with a chuckle, looking at one of his acrylic works on canvas. “Painting on canvas has always been a challenge when compared to paper. I love to experiment and it usually works better on paper than on canvas,” says the veteran medical professional-artist-researcher, speaking on the sidelines of his ongoing exhibition, Promises to Keep, at Amuseum art gallery.

Research director with Amala Cancer Research Centre, Thrissur, Ramankutty has showcased 35-plus abstract paintings, both on paper and canvas, at the gallery. On a board kept at the gallery, he has written: ‘Abstract art is the music of the soul. Music should set you free, invite you to dance to the rhythm of the universe. In a similar vein, abstract art is visual celebration, a dance to the rhythm of the eternal in you which finds its expression in the pulse of the universe…’

'Tree of Life', a work by Dr V Ramankutty

‘Tree of Life’, a work by Dr V Ramankutty | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

“The process of creating an art work excites me. It is an unplanned exercise. As it progresses, I add layers at different stages until I arrive at a form or meaning,” explains Ramankutty. “There is no message in any of the works. I am only trying to arrange shapes, colors and forms.”

Profusion of colours

One gets drawn to his use of colors in beautiful combinations. The paintings leave an impact on you, with the seamless use of hues, even as you try to decipher the meaning. “It is like an outpouring. I don’t know how it happens.”

As we wonder if he has incorporated images of cells — micro and macro — and human organs and forms in some of the works, he says: “It might have happened because of my medical background. But it is not deliberate.” There are also abstract references to nature and landscape.

He has been painting since childhood. “My father (former Kerala Chief Minister C Achutha Menon) claimed that he used to paint although I never saw him do so! There were a few artists on his side of the family, like his brother, Gopu Menon. When I also started painting, it wasn’t a surprise. Nevertheless, my artistic pursuits weren’t encouraged much because studies were a priority.”

Books opened the world of art to him, thanks to his teacher and mentor, the late Dr CR Soman, renowned nutritionist and public health activist. “A great connoisseur of arts, he kept a huge collection of books on art. One of them was a series with 20 volumes, Twentieth Century Masters. I taught myself with this collection, especially about abstract style. I fell in love with the works of greats such as Paul Klee and Wassily Kandersky. I wondered how someone could draw like that!”

There was a phase when he had decided to wind up everything. “Once I got busy with my profession (he was a paediatrician and later focused on public health and social medicine) I wondered why I should continue to paint. That changed when I read a book on oil painting. The author, a woman, had written about why a non-professional artist should continue to paint. Her observation was that if you keep on doing it, there will come a point when your work will be appreciated. That was a motivation.” Thus, over the years, art became the means for him to be “with myself. It does what meditation or prayer does for others.”

'Life forms', a work by Dr V Ramankutty

‘Life forms’, a work by Dr V Ramankutty | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Most of his paintings are in acrylic. “It has a different syntax to it when compared to watercolor or oil. When I decided to use acrylic, many fellow artists and art lovers discouraged me. I wanted to see why they did and that was when I came across awesome acrylic works of masters like David Hockney.”

Besides works in ink and reprints of his old works, a set of digital illustrations done on iPad has been showcased.

Digital drawings by Dr V Ramankutty

Digital drawings by Dr V Ramankutty | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Having conducted solo and group exhibitions, Ramankutty says the one at Jehangir art gallery in 2013 was special. “My work was exhibited with those of stalwarts such as NKP Muthukoya, K Damodaran, Prem Singh, Sasikumar.. As a viewer, I am fascinated by modern art. There is a charm in what they create.”

The exhibition is on at Amuseum, near Althara Junction, till November 28. Time: 10.30am to 11.30pm.


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