Mr. Kanai Kunjiraman: May be no other sculptor from Kerala has the rare distinction of having his creative marvels, dotting the landscape of Kerala than that of Mr. Kanai Kunjiraman. One can easily spot a Kanai creation in places where public gather to relax and unwind. Mr. Kanai Kunjiraman is one of the outstanding sculptors Kerala has ever produced. A gifted and talented artist, his deft fingers, chiseled some of the finest expressions, which still continue to amaze art lovers, easily leaving a lasting impression on spectators. Besides sculpting outstanding pieces of art, Kanai Kunjiraman's efforts were significant in taking the art form to the masses, who otherwise felt intellectually challenged to appreciate the works of other artists.
Born to Mr. P. P. Raman and Ms. K. Madhavi at Cheruvathoor in Kasaragod district on July 25th, 1937, Kanai Kunjiraman could not oblige to his father’s wish of becoming an engineer or an advocate. Instead, young Kanai went on to pursue his interest in art, which eventually landed him at the Fine Arts College in Madras to do a Diploma in Fine Arts.
Kanai Kunjiraman's stay in Madras also brought him in touch with the renowned painter, and revered by many, Mr. K. C. S. Panicker. Mr. Kanai Kunjiraman developed a close rapport with Mr. Panicker, in whom he found ideal elements of inspiration for consolidating and refining his artistic skills. As a student of art, Mr. Kanai Kunjiraman received the Cultural Scholarship from the Government of India. His days in Madras, the present day Chennai, were unique in so many ways. It allowed him to come across outstanding personalities in the field of art, who all enabled young Kanai to familiarize and experience new avenues in the art of sculpting, which was his foremost passion.
In the sixties, Mr. Kanai Kunjiraman's interest to understand different schools of thought led him to join as a student of the Slade School of Arts in England. There, he brushed shoulders with some outstanding artists, and exchanged ideas with personalities like Prof. Regi Butler and Mr. Henry Moor. He later toured extensively in Europe, covering several countries, and met many prominent personalities in the field of art and culture.
Back home from his studies and travels in Europe, Mr. Kanai Kunjiraman was now a man ready to unleash his thoughts and impressions, which he wanted to reach others. Soon, his first creation in Kerala took position at Malampuzha in Palakkad district. The sculpture was that of a Yakshi her seductive best. It literally elevated the popularity of Malampuzha dam to new heights. The work drew wide criticism, but evoked equally good amount of appreciation, befitting an exclusive work of art. It literally paved way for a novel sculpting culture in the Kerala, and the work is considered to be one of his greatest contributions. For Mr. Kanai Kunjiraman, the sculpture was a kind of tribute to the women folk, struggling to come out of the clutches of a social order, dictated by men.
Since 1970, Kanai Kunjiraman ventured into the creation of trophies using his unique craftsmanship. His unique craftsmanship can be witnessed in many temple structures. Some of his noted sculpting marvels in the public glare include a sculpture named "Fertility" at Fertilizers and Chemicals Travancore in Aluva; the mammoth Shell at the Veli Tourist Village in Thiruvananthapuram as part of tourism promotion, the "Mermaid" at Shankhumugham beach in Thiruvananthapuram etc.
His professional life saw him serving as teacher at the Ethiraj College in Madras, professor of Fine Arts College, Trivandrum, and as consultant to Kerala Tourism. He is currently holding the office of the Chairman of the Kerala Lalitha Kala Academy.
Mr. Kanai Kunjiraman and his approach to sculpting have literally trail-blazed the conventional sculpting school of thoughts, practiced and cherished by his peer groups. One thing is for sure; the sculptor in Mr. Kanai Kunjiraman always creates expressions of art that invariably catch the attention and appreciation of the masses.
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