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Artist - Profiles

- S.G. Vasudev
- Yusuf Arakkal
- Sheela Gowda
- Ayisha Abraham
- Amarnath
- Archana Hande
- Surekha
- Shanthamani
- Srinivas Prasad
- Krishna Raj Chonat
- Ravikumar Kashi

Art Education

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Jnanapeeta Awardees

Kannada & Culture

Modern Kannada Classics

Yusuf Arakkal

We are a nation of figures, gestures and narration. These are part of our psyche. The real is the aesthetic is a norm for artists like Yusuf Arakkal. Looking back at the changing contemporary art scenario in Karnataka, a great enthusiasm evolved in figuration in the 70's reflecting the tendencies of artists who made specific choices, to continue a legacy of figurative painting.

The use of the human figure as a significant element in his work was a part of a programme of artists who represented the middle class and people living on the edge. This was an individual political standpoint with a social concern, but not a radical movement. The viewer came face to face with the individual

Yusuf Arakkal

image. It was a human and sympathetic encounter that was successfully adopted by artists of his generation.

The two - dimensional figures are introspective and haunting. He captures the poses and moods of humble people in stoic silence. His people are typical, eternally waiting characters caught in situations of conflict, contemplation or just a state of being.

Textures of Silence
Texture being his significant element, was achieved by a close link with material. This along with an experience of feeling and touching helps to recreate natural textures, worn out with time.

Yusuf was never a colorist, but chose texture to activate his surface. It has a distinctive character from his formative years. This preoccupation has established his style and signature. His humble beginnings and poverty of means as an art student has also contributed to a limited palate of monochromatic colours in earthy shades. Occasionally he dabbled with crimson or yellow for a dramatic effect. Yusuf uses a multitude of means to create these textures. It involves a technique of lifting the paint before it dries. He creates many marks that achieve the coarse quality of rough surfaces by the textures created of brush marks. These surfaces evoke tactile sensations of weather-beaten grains of wood, walls stained by the rains, dressed granite, or any interesting surface that has mellowed with time into a patina.

He structures his canvas with grids, borders, graffiti, doodles to evoke urban walls. These are marks left by society to react, celebrate, or it is just a gesture of self expression? His early water-colours were unusual for their parchment- like quality. He handled them like his oils in a skillful manipulation of colour. This process has shaped his work ethics which is spontaneous and very productive.

His latest canvas reconstructs his vocabulary. He creates brooding atmospheres where the blurring and smudging of images move beyond specific appearances. They don't illustrate but evoke an atmosphere using pictorial chiaroscuro.

His experiments with three dimension has retained his obsession for texture. The granite murals, sculptures that pay homage to the machine and industry, are part of his experience working in a factory. But the most memorable and unsurpassed series was called "Faces of hunger" about the African famine, in terracotta. The material yielded to the pressures and the sensitive handling, where the image associates itself to the earth and when its baked it achieved numerous shades and textures. The tactile medium and the malleable quality of the clay is moulded by the hand. Bodies of children reduced to bone and skin, hollow sockets, starving humans made from this earth, haunting children wrapped in gunny sack like the ancient Egyptian mummies. These were the images of suffering and also the recollection of violence and politics that cause these calamities. The rough surfaces of the sculptures were tactile. The smell and colour of terracotta, remind us of the eternal truth "from earth we come and to earth we return." In the prime of his career will the artist drop his brush and canvas to mess his hands with clay? To find faith in fragility.

It is important to place Yusuf with his contemporaries. The artists of his generation have a common air, their ideology "Social concern" and the aesthetic of perceiving reality through keen observation of their surrounding and dominant human predicament. These acts of perception vary from direct observation, photographic references and memory. In the National scene artists were making conscious choices in forms of figuration parallel to the modernist development of the West. Exposed to a wide range of influences intensely evolved with they social realities. The current attitude of the artists like K.T.Shiva Prasad, Ramesh Rao, Bhaskar Rao and Nataraj Sharma have emerged as some of the prominent figures where figuration and particularly social realism represents a new spirit in Karnataka.


1945 -

Born in Kerala

1973 -

Diploma in painting from Chitrakala Parishath College of Art, Bangalore

1980 -

Specialisation in graphic print making from the National Academy community studios, Garhi, Delhi.

Solo shows in India
Since 1975 - Over thirtyeight shows at Bangalore, Madras, Hyderabad, Trivandrum, Calicut, Cochi, Trichur, Calcutta, Mumbai, New Delhi. Works exhibited include mediums like Oils, Water colours, Graphics, Collages and sculptures - in Bronze, Terra-Cotta, Wood, Granite, Steel, Paper, Fibreglass etc.
Group shows in India
Since 1969 - most major juried shows, state and all India level shows, National exhibitions and exhibitions organised by Private Galleries and other groups.

Solo shows abroad

1992 -

Relays De Monts - Siux, Limousin, France

1993 -

Gallerie Taormina Del Arte - Le Hwre, France

1994 -

Srijana Contemporary Art Gallery - Kathmandu, Nepal

1994 -

Art Forum Gallery, Singapore

1996 -

Wallace Gallery, Chelsea, New York

1996 -

Air Gallery, Dower street, London

International shows

1971 -

Indian Artists at Belorussia and Moscow

1985 -

Thirty contemporary Indian Artists at Habana, Cuba

1985 -

Contemporary Indian Art show at the National Museum Mexico City, Mexico

1985 -

Second Asian Art show, Fukuoka, Japan

1985 -

Indian Printmaking, Festival of India, USA

1986 -

Sixth biennale de beau Art, Beaumount, France

1986 -

Third Asian Art Biennale, Dhaka, Bangladesh

1986 -

Inaugural exhibition of the National Museum of Modern Art, Seol, Korea

1986 -

Sixth International Triennale, New Delhi, India

1987 -

Ninth International Biennale de Sao Paulo, Brazil

1993 -

Nine Indian Artists CCA Gallery, New York

1994 -

Indian printmaking show, Maltwood Art Museum & Gallery Victoria, British Columbia

1994 -

Indian Contemporary Art Show, Gallery Maya, Hong Kong

1995 -

Heads and faces - an exhibition by Gallery Maya, Visual Art Centre, Hong Kong

1995 -

'Save the children' auction by Sothebys, Bombay

1996 -

Indian Contemporary Art show, Nagai Garo, Tokyo, Japan

1996 -

32 Contemporary Indian artists - exhibition and auction by Christies, London

1996 -

Women in Indian Art, by The Gallery, Visual Art Centre, Hong Kong

1997 -

Auction of Indian Contemporary Art by Christies, London

Awards and recognitions
Several awards since 1970 for paintings, sculptures, graphics protraits and drawings that include the Karnataka Lalithkala Academy awards for 1979 and 1981. The National award in 1983, a special award at the third Asian Art Biennale Dhaka, Bangladesh in 1986 and the Karnataka Lalitkala Academy honor in 1989.
To the national Academy of art as an eminent artist, in 1984.
To the Karnataka Lalitkala Academy in 1988.

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