1974 - BLESSINGS FROM KANCHI MAHA SWAMIGAL
I have the pleasure and privilege to put on record the auspicious event which took place in 1974. Before starting my career as a professional portrait artist in Madras (Chennai) we (my family) started on tour to visit some holy places including Kancheepuram. There we visited all main temples and wanted to have dharshan and blessings of MAHA PERIYAVA . Luckily, he was not on tour at that time and so we could make it. We, some 15 people were waiting for his dharshan. After some time Swamigal came out with a smile in his face.
But, I couldn't study his face properly as the distance where Swamigal was standing was too much for that. So, introducing myself as an artist, I requested the priest to convey my willingness to Periyava to move a few more steps towards the devotees to have a close look of Swamigal as an artist. The priest was very much understanding about my interest and immediately approached Periyava to convey my intention as an artist. Next minute that miracle took place! Yes, responding so graciously to my request Peryava came close to the devotees assembled there. It was a small room with insufficient light. Surprisingly, the priest put on the light and we all gathered there were full of joy enchanting 'JAYA JAYA SANKARA'....when we saw Peryava in the glowing light! We all enjoyed the moment with great devotion and bhakthi. Actually, I can't describe by words what exactly we felt. But, one thing I can say definitely that we all assembled there were extremely happy and felt a sense of fulfillment! One devotee went on saying.... "We all had close dharshan just because of you. We thank you.Your future will be bright". I have painted two portraits of Swamigal. Both were purchased by devotees. Unfortunately, I had not taken any photos of the paintings to reproduce here.
This painting was done from a still photo (Film : SANTHI) published by Pesumpadam, the popular Cine magazine at that time in 1964. As an ardent fan of Nadigar Thilagam I painted this portrait and it was appreciated by many. I have great pleasure in presenting the beautiful painting here. Whenever I see this portrait the lines of the popular song - YAR INTHA NILAVU, YEN INTHA KANAVU.....will be ringing in my ears. Most of the film goers of 60's should be familiar with the song and sequence of that film which ran successfully. I heard that Sivaji took time to appear before camera for the shooting of the song. It is such a significant song ! The middle picture is a still from the film Veerapandia Kattabomman and the photo on the right shows Sivaji proudly showing the AWARD to his beloved mother which he received in Cairo film festival for his brilliant performance in the film.
This photo of mine reminds me of the event in 1979. Met Poet Laurette Kannadasan at a meeting in the neighborhood and invited him to visit my studio. He so kindly responded and viewed my paintings. He remarked: " Romba Nalla Irukku - All the paintings are very fine. I shall write about you soon" and asked me to meet him at his residence. At that time I had no recently taken photo to publish along with the article. So, next day I went to a nearby studio at Adyar and got this photo. I handed over all necessary materials with this photo for publication and was anxiously waiting to see the article in printing. Days passed by, but unfortunately the expected article never appeared. It was a disappointment to me. However, I had the consolation of receiving the great poet to my studio to earn his words of appreciation for my work.The incidence was an inspiration to me though not encouragement.
This photo shows the portrait of Sri.Fakhrudin Ali Ahmed (painted by me) being presented as a gift to the President by 'Sheriff' R. Ramakrishnan, when the President visited Madras (Chennai ) in 1976. This happened just one year after starting my career as a portrait artist. 'President greatly appreciated the portrait', wrote 'The Hindu'. This photograph was published in 'The Indian Express'. It was a great feeling for me. Mr.R.Ramakrishnan showed great interest in my career at the initial stage which was very valuable for me.
I painted this portrait of Smt.Indira Gandhi soon after the assassination in 1984. When I learned about the forthcoming visit to Madras in July,1985, I wrote to Shri.Rajiv Gandhi, requesting him to accept the portrait as my gift when he visits Madras.I mentioned some references in the letter.
I was very happy to know my name was included as one of the nine appointees to meet the P.M, face to face at Raj Bhavan in July15,1985. A rare honour to be seated in between Smt. Rukmini Devi Arundale( Founder, Kalakshetra) and Thiru.Venkatakrishnan, Vice- Chancellor of Tamil University, Thanjavur to meet the Prime Minister.. 'It's very nice' was the comment from Sri. Rajiv Gandhi. I had a sense of fulfillment. A moment to cherish.
I got the good opportunity to paint the portrait of Thiru. T.K. Shanmugam, the great Dramatist and the noted actor Kamal Hassan's Guru on the occasion of his 75th Birth Day in 1986. I receive the memento from Kamal Hassan. Kalaivanan, son of T.K.Shanmugam is standing in between us. The portrait received high praises from one and all. The function was telecast in TV. Also, the portrait is shown at the beginning of the movie 'Avvai Shanmuki' as a mark of respect to Kamal's Guru. The frame was changed, later. You can view the portrait in a video by clicking the following link:
This happened in 1997. I painted the portrait and was unveiled by A.C,Muthiah. This is one of my finest portraits. I'm particularly happy that the function was attended by 'Bharat Ratna' M.S. Subbulakshmi and the event took place at the prestigious Music Academy . In western countries they won't miss out the name of the artist when such news and photos published. Moreover,the artist will be invited for Unveiling ceremony as a mark of respect for the creator. Still we have to learn some thing more from them before saying ''India is one of the developed countries''. Of course, It will take some time.
Best Day in My Life
A moment to cherish. An artist himself H.E. Sri. Surjit Singh Barnala, Governor of Tamil Nadu. showed great interest to visit my studio when I invited. And, promptly visited my studio and honored me on March 31, 2006. I should say this is the best day in my career. I feel very proud about this event.I take it as a reward to my dedication as a portrait artist and a honor done to the whole artist community.
2007 LETTER FROM GOVERNOR
This is a personal letter (just click on personal Letter for enlarged view) from
the Governor which I received after a year since
I painted the portrait of the Governor. I consider this yet another honour, I have
received in recognition of my work in the field of portrait painting. This is the most
prestigious assignment letter I have ever received.
PORTRAIT FOR ILAYARAJA
The whole Tamil Nadu is celebrating Ilayaraja1000 with great joy and pride. I would like to take this proud moment to share with you my experience I had with the Maestro. I am an ardent fan of Ilayaraja. As such, I wanted to do at least one portrait for Ilayaraja whatever it be and earn his appreciation for my work from Isai Gnani who had already earned millions of fans and well - wishers. In fact, I wanted a portrait to be presented as my gift. But, I was afraid, it would be taken lightly. For a professional artist getting a portrait commission from a celebrity like him has more impact for his career. So, decided to meet him and receive a portrait commission by impressing him with my portfolio. When he was seeing one by one I found he was pleased with my work. But, at the end he simply said," I shall contact you some time later". This is the reaction from most of the people and they never contacted me again. Leaving my card with him I left with out much hope. Usually, if the person was genuinely interested he would immediately ask me to contact at a date fixed by him. So I had to come to the conclusion that he is not interested in paintings and gradually forgot this incidence. .
After one year, I found some people in front of my house saying they were coming from Ilayaraja's office. They were sent by Ilayaraja with a message that he wants to see me at his office tomorrow. It was a pleasant surprise for me . Met him at his office at Prasad Studios, He don't use table, chair etc... He was sitting on the floor in the corner of the room with good lighting through window. I liked the ambience and the proud moment sitting with a great musician for whom I had great admiration. He showed me a reproduction of a great artist and asked me to do like this.I guaranteed a good work.Then he asked me to go to his house with his assistant to receive the necessary photo for doing the portrait. I met Tmt. Ilayaraja and received the photo of Sri Ramana Mahirishi with advance.This is a day to remember.Now, I have the great satisfaction of winning the appreciation of a great musician for my work.
Letter from a leading portrait artist from U.S
An incidence in the life of Raja Ravi Varma
Once the Governor who was in charge of south India, residing in Madras, went to meet the Maharaja of Travancore.
While they were engaged in conversation the Governor expressed his willingness to meet Raja Ravi Varma for whom
he had much admiration and respect. When Ravi Varma came Maharaja was standing as the Governor was sitting in
a chair. Governor asked the artist to sit. But, Ravi Varma denied to sit saying he wouldn't sit when Maharaja was
standing. Finally, Governor also stood and they three were engaged in the conversation about the works of Ravi Varma
for quite some time. This was the kind of respect he had earned for his work in his own life-time.
Tribute to Ravivarma from Bharathiar when he passed away
"At a time when genuine arts were very rare to be found Raja Ravi Varma entered the art world to paint many exquisite
paintings.Without caring for the pleasures and privileges of the royal life he preferred to become a great artist and he
succeeded to become one. His paintings won accolades from many dignitaries like maharajas and governors. If such
great artists were born in France or England he should have been adored and much respected. But, here in India he
couldn't get his due recognition and honor.
He had much concern for poor people who couldn't afford to buy his original works and so he printed his paintings and made it available for
cheap price. Thus his paintings, both prints and originals could be found in little huts and in big palaces as well.. His passing away indeed a
great loss to the art world. This great artist was 58 when passed away. If even artists like Ravi Varma has to die one day, what to say about
the mystery of human life! It is heartening to see some artists are emerging from his family".
I'm posting the freshly typed letter, copy of the original letter published
in "The Indian Express"
in 1972 for your easy reading.
I hope you like the contents which are still relevant.
2017 50tn Marriage Anniversary
We celebrated our 50th Marriage Anniversary on 07/05/17. My wife Suseela Kumar
had been very understanding and cooperative through out my career. If I could
achieve any thing in my career, though little, it was because of her valuable assistance
and support which I value much. She is a good critic too ! Thank you, my dear wife !