Friday, 16 January 2015

An Art Critic, Poet and Film Maker

 Photo S.Kamalakannan
The first pieces of art, which Monikhaa an art critic, poet and documentary film maker, came across in her life, were the pencil sketches of yesteryear actors Gemini Ganesan, Lakshmi, Bharathi and so on, as her mother, who was an art teacher, drew them.

“I still remember the images drawn by my mother Kamala, which looked like vintage black and white photos” she recalls.
An Assistant professor in the Department of Visual Communications, Avinashilingam Deemed University for Women, Monikhaa is also a passionate writer. Her monthly column Naveenathuvam – Kizhakkum Merkkum (Modernism – East and West) appeared for around two years in Theeranathi, a literary magazine of the popular Tamil periodical Kumudham. Besides, she has penned a book of Tamil poems Thikku Thulaithozhiththal (Losing directions) and made a documentary film Azhagin Elimai on noted Tamil writer R.Chudamani 
Sharing her early day interests in art, Monikhaa reminisces:   

“The first pieces of art, which held me spellbound, were the illustrations by artist Maniam for the celebrated Tamil novel Ponniyin Selvan. Done by using the India Ink, Maniam’s appropriate and lively illustrations for the scenes in the historical novel would be so realistic”

Involved in drawing similar realistic images on one morning, Monikhaa even forgot that the day was her English examination and had to rush to school being late.

“But, I had always been a class topper in all my academic studies” she informs.  

Despite a native of Pollachi, Monikhaa had her studies in Government College of Fine Arts in Chennai and Maharaja Sayajirao University of Barado, where she bagged a gold medal for academic excellence.   
Also spending around ten years in New York, Monikhaa says that her days in the US provided her an opportunity to study the original paintings of popular artists like Picasso, Vincent van Gogh and Leonardo da Vinci

“While in India people show little concern for art, I was surprised to come across that each art work exhibited at the museums in New York is accompanied with its detailed background”

Substantiating her point that most in the country hardly show any interest in revisiting the past, Monikhaa, a passionate lover of antiquities, recalls how the illiterate people in Chennai used to call a museum in Egmore as ‘Seththa College’ or ‘The College for the dead’ ! 
The art critic, who presented her research papers in the symposia conducted at various places in India and abroad, says that she has a great flair for studying Jain art.
Recalling the records found in various pieces of literature on the Shaivite king Koon Pandiyan’s impaling a total of 8000 Tamil Jains in Madurai, Monikhaa even explains the cruel scene from the picture of a sculpture. 

“Though much in Tamil literature including the masterpieces like Silapathikaram, Neelakesi and  Soolamani were the contributions by Jain scholars, it is sad that even in museums the statuettes of Jain Tirtankaras are not given importance on par with the Chola bronzes” she rues.  

Link to my article in The New Indian Express:

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