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We initially thought of posting some biographical information about artist Maniam. But after looking at the comments, we have changed our mind to try and quench your thirst first.
Take a look at this picture.
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in writing from Mr. Maniam Selven.
This is a two colour illustration that was published in Kalki’s memorial issue after the great writer’s demise. That issue covered major accomplishments by Sri Kalki. The same was published in black and white earlier for the fifth volume of Ponniyin Selvan.
In this illustration, we can identify all the characters in their respective places as described by Sri Kalki. Artist Maniam has daringly attempted to play with perspectives and has very convincingly presented us with a complete finale scene of coronation of Sendan Amuthan .
Observing this composition, our eyes are drawn towards the main white figures. (We are purposefully restraining ourselves from identifying characters and would like the viewers to participate.) After that, our eyes start travelling from the lower right corner towards the top left corner. Details of the decoration outside the palace up until the palace gate, and the elephant going out after the royal procession is shown clearly. A complete scene that can be shown with a panning camera in a movie has been stilled in this composition.
Artist Maniam always chose to handle a very unique perspective for his works. He challenged himself by trying to bring the complete scene into visualisation and has definitely succeeded in giving a feeling of movement to the viewers. He did a lot of studies and researches to achieve this.
His practice of making use of anything or anybody as a subject for his drawing started even before he realised he would become an artist one day. My father recounted this interesting episode from what his grandfather (chinna thatha) had told him.
This happened sometime around 1934. Artist Maniam was studying in Vanniyar Sangam school in Nadu street, Mylapore, Madras. In those days, inspectors from the education department used to come on uninformed inspections to see if the classes were going on properly. It was during one such visit, the teacher of young Maniam’s class dozed off after a lesson and the students were happily chatting with each other. But our budding artist decided to sketch his teacher who was sleeping. The inspector having noticed this through the window, walked inside the class. Sudden silence made the teacher look up with a jerk and realising that the inspector was in, pretended as if he was asking the students whether they have finished the given work.
The inspector walked towards young Maniam and asked for that paper. Returning to the teacher, he showed the drawing and asked, ‘How long have you been sleeping for a student to draw like this?’ . This episode ended with young Maniam’s ears being twisted. I think this was the first reward he ever got for his drawing. 🙂
We welcome your feedback and comments about this illustration. We have left one more aspect of this illustration unexplained. We will discuss that in the next post.