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Lot Details

Signed and dated 'KARUNAKARAN 2011' (lower right)

Acquired from the estate of the artist
Artiana / Sale 1901 / Lot 20 / Art Beyond Borders / Dubai / 28-31 March 2019
Private collection, Dubai

C.N. Karunakaran started his painterly journey doing murals which became a huge part of his artistic vocabulary and lent his work structure, order, and organization. A superb colorist, Karunakaran used bright hues and somber tones in creating the concept of feminine uniqueness. He used flowing lines to give his canvases a whimsical and almost musical quality.

Malayalam art critic and scholar Vijayakumar Menon posits, “His colors radiate into their own tonal gradations as in music. Whatever the color he uses, the hue sinks into its lightest tones as a shadow or a reflection of it to get the silent repose of the same as the periodical absolute silence in reverberating musical compositions. Karunakaran’s paintings have a kind of color formula that shows the balance not of two different colors, but of tones of the same, each reflecting its own brightness or dullness. The transition of one hue from its freshness to its own numerous shades is musical as well as lyrical.”

C.N. Karunakaran

(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 occasionally worked 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.