(1940 - 2013)
Born in Brahmakulam, Kerala in 1940, Karunakaran received degrees in design and painting from the Government School of Arts and Crafts, Madras while studying under the tutelage of the renowned artists D.P. Roy Choudhari and K. C. S. Paniker. He moved to Madras, painted seashells for sale and worked occasionally for the cinema industry before completing his degrees and working as a designer with Madras Design Demonstration Center.
Returning to Kerala in 1970, he began as an instructor in Kalapeetom (Kerala Institute of Arts) and continued his art practice within the regional framework. In 1973, he opened Chithrakootam - the first private art gallery in Kerala, although short lived.
His illustrations appeared in numerous publications including Lore and Legends of Kerala from Aithihyamala. Karunakaran exhibited extensively in India and abroad; notable were his solo exhibitions in Brazil (2002), Asian Art Gallery in Virginia, USA (2003), Kuwait (2003) and at the Embassy of India in Washington, USA (2003).
He was awarded the Madras Lalitha Kala Academy award (1964), the Kerala Lalitha Kala Academy award (1971, 1972, 1975), the P.T. Bhaskara Paniker Award (2000), the Malayattoor Ramakrishnan Award (2003), and the Ravi Varma Puraskaram Award (2009).
In 2005, he received a fellowship from the Kerala Lalithakala Academy and eventually served as the chairman. He passed away in Kochi on December 14, 2013 following a period of brief illness.