Department of Cultural Affairs, Government of Kerala

Exclusive Stylistic Features

As the paintings in these frescos and murals, which are commonly called ‘chuvarchithra kala’ or wall art in Kerala are filled with religious narratives, and are visualized in a style which should be an outcome of the admixture of the textual and visual imaginations of the invisible writers before the artists who had worked on them and that of their own. The forms are exaggerated and the artists never use a naturalistic form for the human and divine figures. Interestingly, the ideal figures of the divine and human beings are surrounded by creatures that are rendered very naturalistically, while the natural forces like water streams, fire, wind etc are depicted in a very stylized symbolic fashion. These varieties in depiction establish the existence of the highly experienced guilds under master artists who could experiment multiple painterly styles without losing the perspective and totality of the whole scene painted on the wall. The success of these painters lies in the fact that even the highly informed viewer could never trace or sense of an iota of imbalance in these works, let alone a general viewer who too was a private patron or his relative/s. Though we do not have historical evidences to say that the artists who worked behind these paintings practiced on other mediums such as parchments, slate, board or clay or even palm leaves, we could easily infer that as the style in these paintings are highly developed and polished, the artists had definitely practiced in other mediums too.

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