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“Art has the power to break all barriers- cast, communal and political”

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He is an artist born with the Moon in Libra. A native of Thrissur , the cultural capital of Kerala, Narayana pillai Nandakumar  popular as Artist Nandan pillai, has a special skill to work in harmony with others. Pillai is no doubt a true human gifted with an exemplarory  vision on building unity in the society often threatened by communal virus. “Each of his creations is a strong message to the society. Most of  his creations are on unity which the society lacks these days”,  says Harihara Iyer from Ollur, a college mate of Pillai.                                                                                   

Pillai believesthat Art has a definite role  in shaping the culture of a society. “Some may say that the purpose of artists is to express the beauty of the world around them, but to me an artistic creation has ability to express truth in a way that influences people for the better. Artists express truth and often show mirror to the society through their creations.”  

          According to Sunil Kumar, a former minister of Kerala and a collegemate of Pillai, “Nandan is a silent warrior fighting through his creations for harmony in the society. His creations have influenced many and to our surprise, inspired by his daily cartoons and caricatures our former students of Kerala Varma, many of them living in different parts of the universe, have started establishing links with each other. This is the magic that Nandan’s creations could do.”It has been Artist Nandan Pillai’s long cherished dream to “unite the students, both past and present, of Kerala Varma College and initiate something positive and memorable for the society. 

With the idea of “spotting and getting together students ( former) I started a daily cartoon series. This was circulated through various social media groups and as I desired, the students started responding. Today many of them are addicted to my unity cartoons. If I they don’t see it a day, immediately they make a  call. Some times I get late night calls from other continents, ofcourse with a sorry! But I am happy that my efforts are fruitful.                                             

Pillai wants and his Kerala Varma friends are gearing up for a mega (students) “sangamam” during jubilee celebrations of the College which is  due this year. His passion on Kerala Varma is written on his face, “unlike many other colleges in the state,Kerala Varma represents cross section of the Kerala polity. It has a  culture of unity standing out. This institution has given an intellectual and social model to the society, thanks to the students and teachers who always promoted brilliance in every spectrum, with no communal or political bias that made this college outstanding and different from the rest.”

   Pillai, like Mahatma Gandhi feels  “true art must speak to the millions and is a symbol of happiness, ” According to him “Art gives meaning to our lives and helps us understand our world.”          He believes that art helps us to have a deeper understanding of our emotions; “Art continues to open our minds and our hearts and shows us what could be possible in our world. Art can transform our lives.. Art enables us to look within and to listen to ourselves, realize who we are, and what we care about.It connects us to our thoughts, feelings, perceptions, and our outer realities and experiences.” 

  Further quoting Egar Degas Pillai says “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.”  Pillai is unable to  recall how and when he took up art seriously, ” It seems from my childhood I had some inclination to art, particularly drawing and sculpture. May in the course of my schooling I could identify myself the artist in me. In fact, it was during my college days I became serious of Art and started devoting time for creativity.

 Now, for the past three decades I am totally an artist.”It was in 1996 Pillai got public exposure, thanks to his cartoons in a popular Malayalam Daily, “Express”, published from his home town Thrissur. However, his most popular creation is Pappu Zebra, that he gifted to the public as part of state government’s traffic awareness and road safety campaign. His recent  creations based on Thrissur Pooram (a colourful temple festival which is known globally for elephent show) has been lauded and the physical compilation of his creations has been published as a book. To a question whether artists should explicitly speak to their audience and convey any message for society, Pillai quotes  James Baldwin,  “The artist is distinguished from all other responsible actors in society- the politicians, legislators, educators, and scientists- by the fact that he is his own test tube, his own laboratory, working according to very rigorous rules, however, unstated these may be, and cannot allow any consideration to suppress his responsibility to reveal all that he can possibly discover concerning the mystery of the human being. “

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