“He had not earned money in six months"
An Indian couple has helped a struggling Tamil artist by having him paint the wall of their home with traditional kolams and rangolis.
Kolams, traditional intricate patterns, are often seen outside houses around India.
The patterns supposedly attract good health and wealth and repel evil.
According to the couple, from Madurai in Tamil Nadu, they had their wall painted to spread awareness about the age-old tradition.
Sixty-six-year-old Aruna Visevar, and her 73-year-old husband Visesh Aiyer, also wanted to give an opportunity to a struggling artist.
Aruna, founder of Adhyapana CBSE school, said:
“During the lockdown, I watched a video of a lady painting her home using cow dung and drawing warli designs over it using terracotta and white-coloured paint.
“This made me wonder if anyone had done something similar with kolams in Madurai, a rich art and culture city.
“We spoke to a city-based painter whom we were friends with, and even drove around the city looking for such paintings on compound walls.”
In September 2020, a friend approached Aruna Visevar trying to find employment for an underprivileged artist named Elangovan K.
Speaking of the artist, Aruna said:
“He had not earned money in six months and was desperate to find a job. Initially, he wanted to know if I required any work done at my school.
“However, when I asked him to show his drawings, I was impressed with it and decided to hire him and paint kolams at my home in Sathya Sai Nagar.”
Elangovan K then began work on the couple’s house on a trial basis.
Aruna Visevar gave him a kolam design and asked him to replicate it on the wall.
Talking about Elangovan’s work, she said:
“It was flawless. He did the drawings with one brush stroke, kept his work station clean, and was quick.”
Aruna and her husband then asked the artist to paint one compound wall that stretches across 100 metres.
The wall has 20 partitions. In just one week, he had completed 55 drawings.
Elangovan, a native of Malappuram on the outskirts of Madurai, has been painting houses, billboards, temple walls and signboards for the last 25 years.
The 54-year-old has also made a name for himself by drawing maps, scenic landscapes and portraits.
However, he has been struggling financially since the Covid-19 lockdown began.
Speaking of his work, the artist said:
“I learned the art from my father, who was also a famous painter in my village. He has made murals of gods and goddesses at temples across Madurai.
“From a young age, I have been practising drawing and painting. But I have never drawn a kolam until last year.
“The knowledge I have revolves around what I have seen my wife draw.”
Within just one day of work on the Indian couple’s wall, Elangovan had finished the outlines of the kolams.
Aruna Visevar spoke highly of his work, saying:
“In the next six days, Elango painted 20 large ones surrounded by small ones on four corners.
“They were done using white paint with single strokes and no overlapping.
“Inside the compound wall, he made rangoli designs and filled them with various colours which were selected by me.”
In total, Elangovan completed 55 drawings of kolams and rangolis.
Aruna shared pictures of his work with her friends and family members. As a result, some even enquired to hire him.
According to Visesh, Madurai’s Thiagarajar Arts College also contacted Elangovan to paint a mural on one of their walls.