Saturday was earmarked as a potential day of rest – meaning doing just this and a little bit of that, like a quick visit to my hairdresser, like trying to bake a cake, doing some housework, checking out some clothes which possibly could be packed for our one month long trip to Bangkok early next month, etc.etc. etc. when my husband found 2 small articles in some of our local newspapers.

About one exhibition I wrote yesterday and this second one was about a small painting exhibition which was being held by Niranjana Varma, who is a member (on her father’s side) of the proud and ancient Royal family of Cochin, to be precise, of Tripunithura the capital of the former Kingdom of Cochin.

Painting exhibitions are to be found in our city a-plenty, and history is mostly read from books, but what really aroused my interest here was that Niranjana had painted scenes from the daily life in this area, especially around the famous Sree Poornathrayeesa Temple, considered one of the greatest Temples in Kerala, directly onto the Silk Sarees which were on display and up for sale. Ad since it is Festival Season at the Temple buyers for those unique hand painted silky works of art were aplenty. The artist used acrylic paint to immortalise her vision on silk.

She grew up in this area and knows how to capture the daily routine of the people living there, including the beloved Aana’s (Elephants) like no other artist.

I have to admit – I could not resist and so I bought 2 of her long hand painted silk shawls, one for each daughter. And since both are traditionalists I know they will like their little gifts. And should they not want to wear them they can be framed like paintings – which in fact they are.

All over the world, in every city or village somewhere we find something which should be rescued from men and the elements of time and preserved for posterity. But most of the time funds are short or don’t exist at all in order to go ahead and do the necessary and before one knows time has taken its toll on those buildings etc. and before long they have fallen completely into disrepair.

The same thing is happening here too. I did not know, that there are still 33 such old buildings in Tripunithura alone, and everyone of those buildings is classified as a Royal Palace. And as Niranjana explained to me “… since I cannot rebuild those ancient palaces, I at least keep them on paper for posterity…”

I did not have time to photograph all of her 33 water colours, but I do hope you enjoy the small selection of her work.

When I finally had to say good bye for the day since Niranjana and I had to rush off to some other appointments, we were joined by her very charming parents and I promised to return soon for a lengthy talk (or better, listening!) on Tripunithura’s history and tradition and who would be a better source than K.T.Ravi Varma Sir and his wife Hemalatha Varma.

Namaskaram,  Carina

(Disclaimer: The review is published on the basis of my visit to the exhibition and it is expressly stated that I have no dealings whatsoever with the artists or items displayed. CS)

(Photos: CS/Manningtreearchive)


18 thoughts on “THE ROYAL CONNECTION

  1. Dear Carina,

    Niranjana is my sister, and she called me and told me about you and this blog today. Very nice article.
    Niranjana’s first sketches in life (as a preschooler) were of cute children with very big heads and large eyes, drawn with sketch-pens in my old school notebooks. It has been heartening to watch her develop and spread her wings. It is always nice to hear your kid sister being praised! Thank you!

    Nandakishore Varma

  2. Niranjana Varma has done a brilliant work, catching the essence of the life in Thripunithura and the Cochin Royal Family in particular. I really enjoyed her works. It carries the spirit of Cochin and of a life long gone by. In today’s world wherein life has become busy and one’s daily routine gets confined to either a cubicle or an apartment, Niranjana Varma’s work takes you back to the days when life was a little bit slower and wrapped in tradition. Good work, Niranjana Varma.

  3. Thanks Carina,
    I am sorry it took me this long to put up a comment but the problem was I was into places where there are hardly any net cafes. Anyway thanks for your strong honest and simple explanation about my works. The daily newspapers here usually go to moon with their praises of your work so your upto the point description about my works and exhibition was really loving. I usually like people being honest in thier comments. I only hope we can get aquainted more so that you can go deeply into what I do (in fact my drumming, dance, animation and all burns down into one thing. It is really my search into the inner self) so that you can have a more solid point of view about my works and life. Come to my home at Thrissure while you come back from your trip. Only that you must have some time to spend in my home (it is like an old palace that you saw in my paintings),

  4. Niranjana’s paintings have a vibrant quality to them. Human forms , buildings take on a sense of being alive and moving in time. Hence the representations of ‘palaces’ seems to reflect a mythical quality, a sense of ageing yet agelessness. The elephants (by a vertical elongation of their forms )have this same sense of movement.. Her use of colours has evolved (I have seen her earlier paintings especially the ones she did of Chalai bazaar in Thriuvananthapuram) to become brighter. Thanks Carina, for a lovely piece on an artist I have known for years.

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