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Thursday, July 11, 2024

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Artist Ragini Krishnan’s exhibition in Thiruvananthapuram narrates the story of ‘Abhijnanashakuntalam’


Ragini Krishnan with her paintings exhibited at Ganesham, Thycaud, in Thiruvananthapuram
| Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

The 17 acrylic paintings on display at Ganesham, Thycaud, is the fruition of Ragini Krishnan’s dream. The acrylic paintings in mural style take viewers through the story of Shakunthala as narrated in Kalidasa’s Sanskrit drama, Abhijnanashakuntalam

“I have been working on it for almost 10 years,” says Ragini, a Kannur-native who got hooked to the mural palette after she settled in Thiruvananthapuram in 2008. “I saw an exhibition of mural works done by a group of women that was based on The Ramayana. It was mesmerising. Once I came to know that they were all disciples of Prince Thonnakkal, I got in touch with him and became his disciple,” says the artist.

Ragini Krishnan’s work based on Kalidasa’s Abhijnanashakuntalam

Ragini Krishnan’s work based on Kalidasa’s Abhijnanashakuntalam
| Photo Credit:
SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

She started by drawing a figure of Lord Krishna. Once appreciation came her way from friends and family, Ragini started painting more works, and thus was born her first series, Krishna Nee Begane Baro, which was based on Lord Krishna. The works were exhibited at Salar Jung museum, Hyderabad, in 2002.

Ragini Krishnan’s work based on Kalidasa’s Abhijnanashakuntalam

Ragini Krishnan’s work based on Kalidasa’s Abhijnanashakuntalam
| Photo Credit:
SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Classic on canvas

While the Kerala mural paintings depict stories from mythology, Ragini decided to move away from it and opted for a classic, Abhijnanashakuntalam, for her next series. “The reason being my professor, MR Chandrasekharan, who taught me the text in my undergraduate class. The way he went deep into the verses and explained the story was etched in my mind and so when it came to selecting a theme for my series, Shakuntalam seemed the best option,” says Ragini.

The project was not easy. “I had to select episodes from this great literary work and I didn’t know how to go about it. My husband, K Kunhikrishnan, prepared 17 short notes summarising the story. After that I started working on the series,” she says. It starts with Shakunthala’s birth as the daughter of sage Viswamithra and Menaka, the celestial nymph. The paintings go on to narrate her growing up in the forest, her romance with King Dushyanth, their separation and their reunion.

Ragini Krishnan with her paintings exhibited at Ganesham, Thycaud in Thiruvananthapuram

Ragini Krishnan with her paintings exhibited at Ganesham, Thycaud in Thiruvananthapuram
| Photo Credit:
SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Besides experimenting with the theme, the artist says she has taken liberties as an artist in the choice of colours as well. There is a riot of hues in each painting, with shades of blue, green, pink and red form striking combinations. The seamless blend of shades and the way in which she has captured the emotions of the characters are commendable. “My guru encouraged me when I decided to showcase the wild animals and birds and the lush green surroundings since much of the story is set in forest.”

The artist adds that the task was cut out since she was working on canvases of large size. “I started with a big canvas and soon realised that I had to stick to that same size since it is a series.”

The exhibition is on at Ganesham, Thycaud, as part of Soorya Festival, till December 10. Time: 5pm to 8pm.

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