President of India unveiled these mural paintings at Raj Ghat during ……, and personally congratulated the creator and his team.
The mural painting on Indian freedom struggle with Mahatma Gandhi as the central theme created by Suresh Muthukulam and his team at Aaranmula Vaasthu Vidya Gurukulam during 2001 for the Gandhi Smrithi Darshan mural art gallery in Rajghat New Delhi, is one of the finest creations in murals to immortalize the Indian history and its culture. This epic initiative was part of the year long celebrations of India’s 50 years of independence. Suresh and his team recreated eight important moments from the life of the father of nation, and brought to life India’s freedom struggle in the mural art form. “The dry fresco with a life of over 2000 years is the perfect medium to immortalize the vision of Gandhi. We did not portray as such from available photographs. We used our imagination and logical additions to recreate the scenes” observes Suresh.
Suresh Muthukulam and his team recreated eight important moments from the life of the father of nation, and brought to life India’s freedom struggle in the mural art form. “The dry fresco with a life of over 2000 years is the perfect medium to immortalize the vision of Gandhi. We did not portray as such from available photographs. We used our imagination and logical additions to recreate the scenes” observes Suresh. The series included Gandhi under a banyan tree, Gandhi at Navakhali, Dandi Yathra, Gandhi and Frontier Gandhi Khan Abdul Gaffer Khan, Gandhi with Sarojini Naidu, Gandhi treating the leapers etc. The 6X4 m full size picture of Gandhi in a serene pensive mood was created after six months of arduous saga. Picturising Gandhi without losing his generally known and evident air, minute emotions and features was a big challenge, remembers Suresh. A committee chaired by Dr.N.Radhakrishnan, Head of Centre for Gandhian Studies and Research and Director, Ganshi Smrithi Centre selected the theme and important moments to be immortalized in mural art form.
MURAL PORTRAIT OF MR. K.R NARAYANAN (FORMER INDIAN PRESIDENT)
Suresh Muthukulam also initiated to develop a first of its kind portrait of former President of India KR Narayanan, embedded in background with mural art. The 61 X 45 cm asbestos portrait is also the first portrait of a nation head in mural art form. The portrait is set in the background and theme of India’s national flag and map, and also features the President’s residence and the President’s caravan of horse driven carriage. This portrait prompted the President to egg Aaranmula Vaasthu Vidya Gurukulam to do a series of paintings on Mahathmaji.
The work done in 2002 for about six months, is also the only mural painting of Jesuus Christ’s Last Supper in Kerala mural style
Last Supper, gifted to the late Pope John Paul II by the state cultural department, was an attempt to adapt a Biblical theme to the mural art form, a medium used predominantly to depict Hindu mythological subjects. The Last Supper, one of the most dramatic episodes in Christ’s life, and immortalised by Leonardo da Vinci, was created in the mural medium strictly adhering to the ritualistic and artistic aspects as practiced by mural painters of Indian tradition.
Before finalizing the theme to start painting on the 6X4 asbestos sheet, its theological aspects and thematic nuances were discussed for days on end with a catholic priest now based in Vatican. Since the work was meant to shipped to Vatican, asbestos sheet was chosen as the medium. Aspects like the positioning of each disciple from the central character, Christ and the expression on each one’s face etc was minutely worked out. The biggest challenge, however, was to re-create the whole scene into a native medium without compromising on its ritualistic strength, as also the influence of models left by Western masters as far as Biblical themes are concerned.
SAPHALAMI YATHRA ( THE FRUITFUL LIFE JOURNEY )
All the pictures also portray in the background the life and social set up of the lives of Nair’s during the time of Aacharya, and his efforts to unite and uplift the community.
Another major work done by Suresh Muthukulam was the ‘Saphalamiyathra’ series of mural paintings done on Mannathu Padmanabhan, the late leader of Kerala’s Nayar community. Five artists under the leadership of Suresh Muthukulam worked for about two years to imbibe the life and important moments in the life of Mannathu padmanabhan in the mural art form. Eleven paintings in the series now adorn the Mannam Samadhi in Changanassery, commissioned during 2nd January 2005.
Most prominent among them is the portrait of the leader, who dedicated all his life, wealth and earnings to his community, portrayed as walking away to posterity leaving behind his leftover belongings like wristwatch, walking stick, pen and wooden footwear. This series of murals include birth of the aacharya, early education, Udyoga thrayam (three jobs), formation of Nair Samajam, special moments in his social life, Vaikom Satyagraha, temple entry proclamation, Honour with Padmabhooshan, Mannam with VIPs, My God and Goddess NSS, Saphalamiyathra etc.
Suresh’s saga with mural art are immortalized at centers like :
1. Dr. Nair’s Hospital -Kollam
2. MNF Art Gallery
3. Trivandrum Museum, known as the largest mural of its kind in the state and widely appreciated for the novelty in subject.
4.Mahalingapuram Ayyappan Koil, Kodambakkam, Chennai
5.Akash & Company, Chennai
6. Hotel Imperial, New Delhi
7. Hotel Grant Hyatt, Mumbai
8. Vatican Museum (Last Supper)
9. Mannam Headquarters (Mannathu Padmanabhan)
10. Rajkhat (Gandiji)