Sunday, January 29, 2012

Doors Only Please

Several years ago, back home in Madras, I came across a stunning piece of mixmedia artwork at Focus Gallery. An artwork of traditional old wooden doors that used to dot Tamil Nadu's agraharams, it made me rather nostalgic, as I grew up near an agraharam in Madras. I had fallen so in love with the piece, that I had never quite forgotten and could recall it years later in detail. A few months ago, I finally chanced upon the work again on Geetha's blog

Meet the mystery artist. Meet K.R. Santhana Krishnan.

Santhana first began painting doors in 1996 for a final year project for his Fine Arts degree. 16 years, approximately 40 shows and 800 paintings later he continues...


Reminiscent of his hometown of Kumbakonam, these classic wooden doors and the homes within are slowly becoming yet another nostalgic remnant of a bygone era. He was inspired by the the Bengali artist Sanjay Bhattacharya, who similarly painted interiors as viewed from the entrance.

Deprived of people, these half open doors give us a glimpse of the everyday objects and lives of its inhabitants. Entrances or thinnais, had a pivotal role to play in daily life- it was where guests were received and business conducted on the raised seating areas just outside the doors. Doors which were fully opened only if the guest was a close relative who could be welcomed into the inner courtyard.
 

A mix of acrylic on canvas and wooden models of doors (complete with old locks and stained glass), Santhan's eye for detail deserves high praise. His paintings capture the tiniest details that give us a window into the life of these agraharams- glimpses inside of aluminum milk cans, kerosene lamps, tulsi madams,  turmeric painted to the bottom of doors to keep away insects and bugs, milk accounts scratched on wood or faint white numbers painted outside by the govt., to denote that polio drops were given to a child in the house under the immunization program. 


His acrylic on canvas works, depict the vibrant primary colours usually chosen to paint walls and doors, the peeling plastered posters and advertisements painted just outside on the walls.


 The colour above was popularly known as mittai pink.

 As captured in the painting above, Santhana notes "In those days, they used stained glass or plain ones above the door to let the light in. But in the afternoon they would place usually pictures of gods to keep out the bright light."

Santhana has also painted traditional doors and glimpses of inner courtyards of homes in Rajasthan and Punjab.


To check out more of his stunning work please visit- His website, Facebook page or blog.

For those of you in Bangalore, his solo exhibition, "Traveling doors" is on at Kynkyny art gallery, from Jan 21st 2012 to Feb 9th, 2012.
{Credit for images of all the artwork goes to K.R. Santhana Krishnan}



22 comments:

Sudha said...

he is amazing :). For a moment i was taken back in time. relived my summer vacation in tiruchy agraharam. :)

Sudha said...

so enamoured with his work, that re read the post...lovely work ..thanks for sharing divya...artists are def special

Designwali said...

love it all...especially mittai pink.

Vasudha Narasimhan said...

thanks so much for this introduction...i think i have seen his work in the UB city gallery about 2 years ago. I so loved his work....but never got a chance to know the artist. Beautiful work and my first pick when I come back to Bangalore.

Shanthi said...

WOOOOOOOOOOOW!!!! Divya! This is some art! Too good. Thanks for sharing.

PurpleRickshaw said...

absolutely amazing..i have been looking for wooden shutters to put up on a wall at home,but this is waay better..

Sreelu said...

As always in awe of your discoveries, loved the doors what a nostalgic look they have.

K.R.Santhanakrishnan said...

thank u divya ‎:)

K.R.Santhanakrishnan said...

Thank u Divya ‎:)

GB said...

Oh Divs, this is divine. SO so so in love with all those teeny tiny details (numbers left outside by govt employees to mark houses that have received the polio drops?---for the artist to have noted that, and incorporated it into his work, is mindblowing to borrow a phrase.)

Thanks for the post, I think I need to enlarge all the pictures here to drink in the details.

Sharon said...

What a stunning post! :) Thank you - it was a visual treat, packed with info, and makes me so want one of those beautiful doors!

Sharon

padmaja said...

One of the most original and innovative works I have come across Divya, thanks for the introduction. Here is standing ovation for his brilliance!

rama said...

Very beautiful, it brings back memories of the old Triplicane, Srirangam and Kumbakonam and Karaikudi houses I have had the good fortune of living, during my younger days.
It was good to visit your blog after such a long time, will visit more often.

Emreen said...

Excellant feature , Sudha.. .!! He s brilliant... Loved seeing all the doors... especially the one with 'Lakshmi Seeval' notice on the wall... It looks soo original....

Great work Mr.Krishnan...Wish you all the best !!

Anu@My Dream Canvas said...

This is amazing. What a great post Divya!

Anjali Ramachandran said...

I am bookmarking this. If I have a house, I'd like a door of this sort somewhere in it!

Veda Murthy said...

hes brilliant!!!!!!fantastic work...love the colors.....

Ambika said...

Artists and their wonderful ideas! Awesomeness!

Deb said...

Divya thank you so much for posting about these. I've come across these doors online previously and loved them. My husband is in Bangalore now and I'll tell him to visit that gallery if it's not too late. Plus I'm positive a visit to this artist is in order on our next trip to Chennai! I'm so glad you're sharing so many artists here. We'll fill our apartment in Chennai with art and surely will support artists you feature.

Turmericnspice said...

lovely post love the pink - love all the colors and the depth !!

Turmericnspice said...

btw i miss your old banner

Lakshmi -Celebrations said...

lovely work..