Impressions of impact

Art has been a constant companion for Shajan Kavitha

author_img Vaishali Vijaykumar Published :  05th January 2022 02:31 PM   |   Published :   |  05th January 2022 02:31 PM
Impressions of impact

Impressions of impact

Art has been a constant companion for Shajan Kavitha. It added colour during an existential crisis. It rendered solace while he was battling depression. It instilled a sense of hope when everything else was falling apart. It offered an alternate source of income in turbulent times. And now, it has given a sense of purpose to his life — to create art and films with a meaningful message for the masses.

For the city-based artist, who quit his IT job and currently works as an assistant director with director Vijay Varadharaj, art has been that space to channel his creative energy constructively for a larger cause. Resonating with his beliefs and ideologies is one of his latest and on-going projects for Margazhiyil Makkal Isai where Shajan has been sketching the digital illustrations of lesser-known performing folk artistes of Tamil Nadu. “I instantly agreed to this assignment as the cultural festival has brought a cultural revolution. By wielding art as a weapon, I pay my tribute to these artistes,” he shares.

The larger picture

An in-depth research, a thorough study of the performers and their legacy of contributions have gone into every artwork. “While drawing singer Madurai Chandran, I listened to his songs and was thrilled by such hard-hitting lyrics he has penned. Vargama seradha varaikum nam vazhvil vasantham ilai (If we don’t keep our castes aside then we can never come together as a community to live harmoniously). These words sum up the struggles of the labour class. To highlight their hard work, I painted an image of workers beating an iron hammer on a stone and music emerging from it,” he details.

Similarly, Shajan has tried to incorporate impactful messages into his art series for the festival. In his work of Kadavu mathattam performance (featuring eight types of parai), he has represented the artistes playing the instrument for empowerment. “Take singer Suganthi, for instance, who delivers revolutionary songs. Or the pair Rajalakshmi and Senthil who portray the raw form of love in their songs without romanticising it. Or even the Gaana singers who are the true identities of the city and its people. They deserve the limelight. There are subtle meanings behind my artworks; those who appreciate it will understand the intent behind it. I don’t intend to impose my beliefs on anyone otherwise. It’s just a medium for me to speak my mind,” notes Shajan, who’s been receiving moving feedback from the artistes. “The other day, Manimegalai, an oppari singer, called to thank me for portraying her musical journey in a vibrant light. This inspires me to do better.”

Dreaming a better world

Shajan has also conceptualised his 2022 calendar featuring leaders who were at the forefront of social movements that challenged the deeply entrenched caste system. “The design for January and February features the trio of Periyar, Ambedkar and Marx. March and April has Dr BR Ambedkar since his birthday falls in April. May and June has Marx symbolising Labour Day. July and August has Buddha pampering an elephant symbolising the Buddhist connection with the animal since Vinayakar Chathurti falls in August. September and October has Savitribai Phule to mark Teacher’s Day. November and December has Periyar since his death anniversary falls in December,” he details.

It has been Shajan’s dream to bring out a superhero comic called Bhim Man featuring Dr BR Ambedkar and another one featuring Periyar. “This is the best way to take their teachings to children and introduce them at a young age. The stories will be laced with humanity and love. I’ve been receiving great responses for the calendar. If these artworks can transform the mindset of people for the good then nothing like it,” he sums up.