Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Devan Madangarly - Meet An Artist

To think of Ahalia Heritage Village and not associate it with Varma Sir or Devan Sir is impossible. This week, Devan Sir is joining us to share his thoughts and experiences and above all his art which is magnanimous in itself. He is a self-taught contemporary artist who easily fuses folklore and folk style into his art with such ease and grace that it's so interlaced into an effective narrative style. He is not only an amazing artist but a fabulous and generous human being too. I am super glad to introduce Devan Sir to my dear friends and readers in my space, Hues n Shades.

{For those who are new here and have not read my Ahalia posts, you can read it here and here.}

Devan Madangarly (DM)

Deepa: Firstly, as the tradition goes, please give us a brief about yourself.

DM: I was born and brought up in a Namboodiri (Brahmin) family in Ottapalam, Kerala. I studied up to Pre-degree and soon after started to work in sales and marketing for a living. I remember my childhood days as difficult periods.

Art was always in my veins. My great grandfather and one of his brothers were artists. I think of it as a continuation of their gifts in me. From childhood days, I drew. But during my ‘salesman period’ I did nothing important.  After 15 years of working as a salesman, I resigned and got into the world of arts and that was in 1990. I am basically a self-taught artist; I went to Kanoria Centre for Arts, in Ahmedabad and took a foundation course of drawing and painting though.



Deepa: Tell us something about your work and association with Ahalia Heritage Village. What is the one thing that you enjoy the most in Ahalia and why? You organize various workshops with artists all over the country. What is it that you relish and learn from these memorable events? 

DM: In Ahalia Heritage Village, in Palakkad, I am experiencing a new kind of work. We, the Team, together are recreating and converting a barren land to an art village. Ahalia organizes various workshops with artists all over the country. I am learning from these memorable events on how to develop as an organizer and studying on their working methods. Actually the mural I did in Ahalia is based on the tribal life and culture.

Ahalia Heritage Village

Deepa: The mural art that you have worked on in Ahalia is one of a kind with elements of nature in it. It portrays a serene and harmonious existence that we so wish in today’s wild world. What was your intention behind that creation?

DM: Since Ahalia is a heritage village where we wanted to preserve folk elements of art, we decided to go with that kind of theme. It has folk art and nature which is inseparable.


Deepa: You are an extremely talented artist yourself. What inspires you the most and stirs your creative juices?

DM: I don’t think I am ‘an extremely talented artist.’ But talented, yes. What inspires me is Nature. Books and my journeys are my other inspirations.


Deepa: Folk art has found a new direction in your art, if I may say so. There are also the vast green landscapes and cool blue water bodies, what inspired you to merge all these elements together to bring about an art tale of your own?

DM: In my childhood days, I felt lonely. That loneliness gave me a friend - Nature. Nature inspired me to draw. My experiences and some motifs from nature became part of my paintings. My paintings are my stories. My narrative style is created with the mural tradition and miniature styles of India.

Devan Sir's mural in Ahalia Heritage Village



Deepa: There is a sort of simplicity and yet an enticing depth to it…as if there are layers to your paintings... Your signature! May we know your thoughts on it?

DM: Almost every painting and drawing I did is simple but in the depth they lead to a mood of sadness. This is because my thoughts lead me to contemplate on my memories. Actually memories are a great influence in my works.


Deepa: Monochromes seem to be a recurring process…is that deliberate?

DM: My drawings, especially pencil, and some paintings are always monochromatic. That is not deliberate. My childhood days were colourless. So the memories are the reasons behind the style. Colour came to my life after many years. Then I began to experiment with colour.



Deepa: You work with different mediums…which is your preferred medium though?

DM: My preferred medium is Pencil.

Doll in a Basket

Deepa: It is difficult to point to one and say “I just loved it!”…there are a lot of personal favourites for me in your collection. The diptych and triptych are lovely works, while ‘Rain and the Boats’ suggests nostalgia, ‘The Antique Collector’, ‘Death of a Salesman’ is an intriguing piece, ‘The Birds have no Reflection’ has a childish charm with an interesting edge to it, ‘The Smoker and the Crows’ has an eerie touch to it, while ‘Jobs of an Elephant’ points out a satirical element…there are lot of personal nuances in your paintings. Which is your personal favourite and why?

DM: In my works, many are my personal favourites. You mentioned some of them. Every work is my memory. In one way or other, they are attached to me. ‘Rain and the Boats’ was a childhood memory. In ‘Antique Collector’, I am the protagonist. ‘The death of a Salesman’ is based on my salesman period. ‘The Birds have no reflection’ is simply a childish dream. In ‘Smoker and the Crows’, the smoker is one of my friends. He was sitting quietly in Cholamandal Artists Village and smoking, at the same moment the crows came to his side and befriended him. ‘Jobs of an Elephant’ are from my journeys; what I saw.



Deepa: Who is/are your personal favourite(s)? Also, whose work(s) hang in your living room? 

DM: My personal favourites are many, from Europe to India. There are no works in my living room though because I don’t have a living room as I reside in an ancestral home which doesn’t have that concept of a living room.


Deepa: What would be your most important advice to aspiring artists? Any tip or technique that you would like to share with the readers?

DM: My advice is to aspiring artists is to draw, draw, draw, and study different techniques of usage of pencil.


Deepa: Where can my readers reach you? (Website/Blog, FB, Twitter, Email address…)

Picture from an artists' camp held in Lakshadweep

Thank you Devan Sir for your time. It was an immense honour to have you here and share your art and thoughts. Wishing you the very best in all your future endeavours and years of happiness!

Friends, hope you all enjoyed the first of MAA (Meet An Artist) of 2015. Do keep visiting and leave your thoughts... appreciate it a lot!

Good Day!

pic courtesy: Devan Madangarly

Note: Do not use these images without the written consent of the artist. Please honour the rights of the artists'.

Friday, January 23, 2015

"My death needs to mean something..."

Recently there was a news in our regional newspaper about Leelah (Josh) Alcorn (17), a transgender teen who committed suicide on Dec 28, 2014 in Ohio. 'She' walked 4 miles to Interstate 71 in the middle of the night where she was struck and killed by a tractor-trailer. For two-three days internet talked only(so it seemed) about Leelah..I could see different pictures and news from different sites presenting their views and opinions and there was so much hatred towards the family particularly the parents who failed to understand their child. I was deeply affected by the incident ( like may other incidents... sometimes I just skip those pages or channels as if that would help me! Yet, the truth remains....we just can't escape from such facts!) just by the thought of how a teenager who pondered (must have done that for a long time) and took the drastic step of taking one's own life...put an end to all 'her' sufferings. She had explained in her blog that she felt "like a girl trapped in a boy's body ever since I was 4."

Why am I writing about her? I am not sure, but this is compelling! I had to! For me it is as simple as they are HUMANS too...with the same kind of feelings and emotions and pains! How hard can it be to accept people as they are when it is not even something within their power??? Many, I hear and read, take it as some sort of mental ailment. Isn't that sick and pathetic?

I think in these recent years much has been talked, discussed, presented and publicized through TV and other mediums. Earlier there was so much it ambivalence(?)...when LGBT issues were spoken about. It's not completely extinct yet people are now more considerate, candid and accepting (than in the past when people would never come out speaking 'for' them) - can not generalize the situation though. I am glad that we are evolving though (may be I still like to see the positive side).

I remember Aamir Khan's Satyamev Jayate presented this issue in Season3 - Episode 3 - Accepting Alternative Sexualities. He needs all the applause for having brought up the issue in such a stoic fashion and made the country aware of the impact the society forces on them and how the lives, knowingly or unknowingly - most of the time it is the former, are transformed for the worse. There is so much stigma and taboo attached to the subject that one needs to think many times before venturing into it, I feel!

I loved Ghazal's part where she just had to be released from her disconnected body to what she actually was and most importantly how her parents stood by her even if it was with all their fears and insecurities. She is more graceful than any other 'woman' I have seen! To top it all, she's an upcoming script-writer too!!! 

I felt Leelah's story resembled Ghazal's but it ended up tragically because she didn't have the much needed support system as Ghazal. Leelah's case became global, specifically after her 'Suicide Note' went viral and it was followed by 'SORRY' (to friends and family). 

Leelah's mission was clear...she didn't want her death to go unnoticed...she wanted to bring about a change. She said "My death needs to mean something"...she wished to "Fix society" and she left all the money she was to inherit and what she had for the cause - to save LGBT community. It shows the 'grave' impact on her 'little' mind.

This alone can be a reason why one should not talk about her? It is this attitude that made me write this post...she takes it to the level of sacrifice by doing so.
I would like to hear what you wish to say...your thoughts on the subject.

Leelah - Watercolor on handmade paper


"Leelah, the light was 
put out to darken her thoughts
yet it caught flame, wild."

Linking to Eva and Kristin's Paint Party Friday!