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Artist Profile3
An artist inspired by the real tactile world he inhabits
Artist Murali Cheeroth through his works looks to trace both the psychological and physical aspects of human emotions and humdrum daily life. According to him, his working process - a sort of extraction system - draws on concerns regarding frenzied globalization, uber urbanization and the inherent visual or virtual stimulation. The idea is to fold and unfold the same into another reality so as to simplify their basic characteristics as well as relationships for a new, vivid visual experience.

This socially sensitive artist’s oeuvre, imbued with themes revolving around the rapid development and the underlying violet streak as part of it in Indian society, denotes influences of his immediate milieu and fast-paced city life. Curator and art scholar Dr Alka Pande has noted how based on the everyday popular culture of the built environment, his anxieties, engagements and dynamism, prompts him to revisit the images not just based on what he sees, but through a retouching driven by his emotions. His oeuvre is somewhat similar to that of Gerhard Richter, a famed artist who painted images without glory, coming up with images rendering the ridiculous, ordinary; the tragic and the beautiful, ordinary. Richter’s work formed from structures and ideas surrounding him, sans any profound touch to it.

As is evident, Murali Cheeroth draws his inspiration from the built environment, rather than the luxurious flora and fauna he grew up with in his native land. His works are configured with codes and clues, which turn into cultural maps of his lived environment. His paintings are noteworthy for their incredibly slick surfaces, vivid colors, focused attention and subtle, surreal composition. Born in Thrissur in the southern Indian state of Kerala in 1966, the Bangalore-based practitioner first acquired a Diploma in Painting from Govt. College of Art, Trissur in 1987. Later he completed his BFA in 1992 and MFA in 1995 from Kalabhavan, Santiniketan plus an advanced diploma in digital media. He was awarded with Kanoria Scholarship for Print Making (1997); Junior Fellowship, research in fiber art and Cultural Scholarship from the Department of Culture, Union Ministry of Human Resource (1997-99 and 1993-95) ; Kerala State Lalit Kala Akademi award (1997-98); and Merit scholarship. Kalabhavan, Santhiniketan (1989-94), among others.

In recent years, he has had many exhibits and participation in shows across India and internationally such as ‘Habitus' Sumukha Gallery, Chennai and Bangalore; 'Unmarked' at Viart Gallery, New Delhi; 'Surviving sagas' Visual Arts Gallery, IHC courtesy Ashna Gallery; 'The masters corner', Museum gallery; 'If I Were A Saint', Shrine empire gallery, Delhi; 'Ways of seeing' Galley Soulflower & ICCR, Bangkok , Thailand; ‘Hot shots’, Gallery Viewing Room, Mumbai; ‘Popular reality’, Stainless Gallery, Delhi and Jam Jar Gallery, Dubai; SH Contemporary Shanghai courtesy Viart Gallery; a group show by The Art Trust, Mumbai; and ‘The sun rises in the east - Contemporary art from India’, Gallerie Christian Hosp, Austria.The talented artist’s engagement with institutions such as CEPT, Ahmedabad; Bharat Bhavan, Bhopal; Kanoria Centre for Art, Ahmedabad, National Institute of Design; and College of Architecture, Ahmedabad in different roles as a resident artist or a faculty stems from his wide-ranging conceptual and figurative concerns.

His involvement with theatre coupled with continuing interest in cinema has allowed him to present vivid images – drawn from photography, cinema, or the digital world - through dramatic ambiance. His work employs these industrialized mediums as the basic iconography. He then steps back a touch to reframe and use the processes of translation, transliteration, transmutation. With his careful subversions of photo-realism, he skillfully tries to blur, highlight and amplify the trajectory and movement of his subjects. They are not location-specific rather they universal in nature as he looks to bring out the changes in the urban landscape.

A detailed note by Dr. Verena Widorn on the Initial access website spells out his artistic inspirations and influences as follows: “He creates scenes in an unusual perspective wherein human figures depicted as mythical and isolated, at once, are often mere fragments. They are placed in worlds, immersed in the glare of neon light, presenting a stark contrast to the realistically portrayed industrial sites and objects. His paintings exude dramatic tension heightened by the sharp lines and blurred parts. Different levels of reality, interwoven and placed in multiple layers, construct a scene from diverse points-of-view. Their collage-like structure indeed makes the visual content enigmatic and difficult to fathom. In spite of the recognition value of certain shapes and objects, his structures paintings are distorted and deformed. He extracts visual moments from several situations and realities so as to assemble them into visionary and virtual structures.”

A mix of curious abstract and figurative forms, coupled with the biomorphic and the geometric, his style and palette allude to the storybook illustrations, in accord with the reality — specifically with space and time. Summing up his practice, he has stated, “I use hybrid, technological colors to elaborate my themes. My work largely deals with the urban life. There is no specific single theme. I tackle several related themes in my work - developmental, environmental and cultural. Such themes get juxtaposed and remain interrelated.”