Born in the temple town of Madurai in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, art by Iruvan Karunakaran, a contemporary Indian artist, uniquely captures both the timeless quality of village life and the bustling pace of urban life. His crisp command of light and shade creates an almost photo-realistic effect, whether painting a decorated bull or a city street in the rain. His use of the palette knife gives these dynamic scenes a thick texture and an energy that transforms the viewer into a participant. The grand sweep, color and flow of life in India spring to life in his skilled hand.
Iruvan Karunakaran explains his fascination with India’s daily life and its silent magic, “The streets inspire me very much. They come from somewhere and go somewhere else…. It’s like standing at the point called today, with yesterday behind you and tomorrow ahead of you. People seek the streets and roads… They want to get somewhere and do something… The continuous movement on the street makes it feel as if it is alive. What better place to watch and express life with, if not the streets?”
Iruvan Karunakaran’s ‘Gangireddu,’ or decorated ox, original painting series is particularly popular. He depicts the colorfully clothed Gangireddus with their master ‘gangireddollu’ on the streets of the Andhra-Karnataka region, where they walk from house to house seeking alms. Gangireddollus are people of nomadic castes who receive their gangireddus from local farmers, after the oxen become old and unfit for farming.
Iruvan Karunakaran graduated with a BFA from the Government College of Arts and Crafts, Kumbakonam. He worked in animation for eight years before deciding to pursue fine art full-time.
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