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Figure of speech December 7, 2014

Publication: Tribune Life+Style

By Manpriya Singh

A stainless steel image of a conch shell; ritual symbols and stories for inspiration; thoughts reflected in motifs like flame, rice plant, cactus, a bird it is impossible getting into an artists thoughts. Nevertheless attempts can be made for a sneak-peak into the thought process. Something Balan Nambiar himself attempted to do for his audience through an audio-visual presentation Career Graph.
I come from a background where nobody expected you to take up art and I never thought, Id find my calling in art, begins the artist while in Chandigarh, on an invitation by Chandigarh Lalit Kala Akademi. With a farming background and a stint as an employee in the Indian Railways that only sounds believable. He laughs, I would secretly attend art lessons and tell my folks back home that I was learning short hand and typewriting.
The love affair with art that perhaps started with clay toys as a child, continued to grow and got a shape and became more and more concrete, much like the monumental structures that are his hallmark today. The accolades include a state award and a National award and senior fellowship for his work and academic research.
While his mediums may have changed often, from clay, fiberglass, concrete wood, bronze, mild steel to stainless steel, not one of his inspirations as an artist. Ritual art form is one of the strongest things that sustained me as an artist, shares the Kerala- born and Bangalore-based artist.
Needless to say, he has extensively studied, photographed and documented hundreds of ritual performances and art forms of the Indian west coast as Teyyam and Bhuta.
Ritual rules Starting with the ritualistic art of Kerala, each slide brought along the dynamism of structures. The structures that now amazed the audience; that inspired him as an artist and those that all along have been deeply embedded into the ritualistic practices of Kerala.
Geography plays a very important role in the culture of the placePaddy fields, coconut farming, banana crop have definitely influenced the ritual art of Kerala, shares the well known sculptor, enamellist, photographer and academic researcher.
In between were some of the slides even showcasing the subjects of his initial research papers. Many of his works are outdoor sculptures, some are monumental.
From pictures of the spirits of wild animals worshipped by society, to ritual dances started by hunting, to elaborate costumes worn by the dancers, the drummers, costumes made of tender coconut leaves, the gymnasium for martial arts, each figure and pictures offers dynamic structures. It is the Kerala I grew up in... Each state has different murals, traditions and style of painting. He adds, Ill show a lot of slides, so many of them till somebody says stop. Only nobody did. Because each slide gave a peep into the artistic view of looking at things. As for the artists mind, like we said, it is impossible getting into that complex sphere of creativity.
manpriya@tribunemail.com
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