“I am a big fan of him [Amitabh Bachchan],” says artist Suresh PK as he wraps up the 25×15 feet portrait of the veteran actor using cloth masks. He is inside an auditorium in Thrissur.Once done, Suresh inspects his work, clicks a photograph, collects the masks and puts it into a bag. “I have to clear this floor in the next hour. I hope the photo finds its way to Amitabh Bachchan through social media,” says Suresh.The artist — known as ‘Da Vinci’ Suresh — is popular for his unorthodox approach to art and choices of media. “I keep looking out for things to experiment with. I love movies and that shows in my works. Most of my portraits are of movie stars.”
‘Da Vinci’ Suresh with his work
Suresh started his career by painting hoardings and billboards in Thrissur with his brothers. “As they made way to digitally printed ones, I lost my job. Then I started to make moving sculptures for carnivals and festivals. I have crafted huge elephants that can sway their heads, and gorillas that can move their hands using fibre and motors,” he says. However, given the current situation, sales have decreased. “There are no gatherings and many artists like me have lost our livelihood. Earlier I created art during my spare time. Now, I use my time to experiment,” he says.One of his first works was of actor Mohanlal’s portrait, made three years ago, using vessels from his kitchen. “It was the character Aadu Thoma from the movie, Spadikam. It was quite challenging as it wasn’t a very flexible medium. I used old blackened pots to create his hair and moustache,” he says.Medium mattersIn the past six months, actors Rajinikanth, Prithviraj Sukumaran, Fahadh Faasil, Tovino Thomas, and freedom fighter Muhammed Abdu Rahiman Sahib have been made into portraits.
While Rajinikanth was done on the ceiling of his bedroom, using soot from burning candles, the portrait of Prithviraj Sukumaran was created using firewood. “Fahadh’s portrait made of nails looks like dot painting from a distance. I plan to gift it to him. The work of Muhammed Abdu Rahiman Sahib using books, was more like a sculpture and was done in a public library for Independence Day. I used 2,000 books for that work,” he says.For Tovino’s portrait with paddy, Suresh divided the field into cells and planted paddy into designated areas on the ground. “It was 35 x 20 feet in area and was designed for an aerial view. It took me almost four hours to complete. Tovino shared the photo on his social media pages and I was thrilled,” he adds.Recently, Suresh completed a project done by Kerala Cartoon Mission, in association with Kerala Social Security Mission, to draw cartoons on public walls to spread awareness on the pandemic. “I was one of the 30 artists chosen for the project. We covered all the 14 districts in 14 days.”He is now attempting to try out over 100 media for his art. “I have completed 62 so far. I hope my works will be an inspiration for others to travel on an untravelled route. I have planned my next work, but I would like it to be a surprise!”