Painting dreams with a ballpen from a wheelchair

New Delhi, May 2: He is 37 and a warrior in a wheelchair with a sword that etches his imagination on paper in sharp lines.

Physically-challenged C.V. Surendran’s sword is the humble ballpoint pen, a tool that doubles as the paint brush and pencil for his intricate drawings of landscapes, figures, birds and Lord Ganesha.

Surendran, a native of Kerala, is perhaps the only known artist in India who paints complex landscapes with figures, animals, textured surfaces, tonal variations and light-shade interplay in six basic colours with ballpoint pens.

Senior Delhi-based artist H.S.Sharma, who was known to paint with ballpens, died in October last year.

Surendran uses his fingers to smudge the strokes into layered shades of colours to give his figures a three-dimensional volume.

‘I cannot use any other medium than the ball point pen because I am confined to the wheel chair. I cannot move. I have to place a board on my lap with the paper and draw with a ball-point pen because it exercises my fingers and keeps them mobile. I have no use of my feet,’ the artist told IANS here.

Surendran’s week-long solo exhibition, ‘Feathers of Phoenix’, opened at the Lalit Kala Akademi in the capital Tuesday.

The artist said a paralytic physical condition that hinders movement kept him bed-ridden for three years in his late teens.

‘It was then that I started drawing to overcome loneliness. In the last 20 years, I have acquired complete mastery over my practise and use the ball point pen as a brush,’ the self-taught artist said.

Art has been the therapeutic process in the artist’s life.

‘As I drew, I was filled with confidence. It healed me,’ he said.

Surendran’s style is a combination of simple picture book illustration and cubism that stands out for its empty white spaces, sparse use of colour and control over the line.

‘I paint from my imagination because I cannot go out of home. The television inspires me to draw new images,’ he said.

Each painting takes nearly two months of hard finger work and is painful, the artist said.

Surendran, who has exhibited three times in Mumbai, survives by selling his art. He has been awarded by the Kerala government for his art.

IANS