Department of Cultural Affairs, Government of Kerala

Wall Paintings

The history of visuals art in Kerala is inextricably entwined with all other kinds of art forms that are primarily performative and ritualistic in nature. Till it got its recognition as a modern ‘discipline’ within the general visual culture, in Kerala visual art remained as a part of the religious and social fabric of the society, often not demanding a separate status for itself. Perhaps, that was the history of visual art in general anywhere in the world. Though the oldest evidences of paintings are from the ancient caves and even if caves are seen in Kerala’s historical sites, paintings that would lead to the existence of a consistent painterly style in this region are not seen in them. The earliest examples of paintings that we see are from the temple or palace walls where fine artists depicted intricate religious narratives in the most complex visual modes that would evoke the curiosity of even the highly futuristic art enthusiasts from any part of the world. The finesse and complexity in medium, structure, rendering and narrative intricacy, as seen in Mattancherry, Kayamkulam, Padmanabhapuram and so on reveal that before the arrival of such murals and frescos, there must have been a highly experimental painting style existing in Kerala before 9th CE as these murals are done between 9th and 12th CE.

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