Noted artist Yusuf Arakkal passed away ,The Kerala-born, Bengaluru-based artist was an alum of the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishad and also received training from Jaya Varma .His last exhibition (‘Faces of Creativity’) comprised a series of 135 portraits of personalities from the world of contemporary art that Arakkal worked on for over three years.
Kerala conferred its highest honour for an artist, the Raja Ravi Varma Puraskaram, on Arakkal in 2013; he had said that it was the award that meant most to him, among all the plaudits he’s ever received.
The portraits are rendered as pen and ink drawings on reversed canvas, which as Jayanti Madhukar pointed out in a piece for The Hindu, is an “unforgiving and challenging surface”. Arakkal wanted the entire series — which includes portraits of Amrita Sher Gil, MF Husain, Abanindranath Tagore, Thota Vaikuntam and Ramkinar Baij , to be sold as one work, to a single buyer.
Arakkal reportedly got the idea for what would be his last series over 10 years ago, while on a visit to London. He apparently sketched a portrait of an artist friend using pen and ink, and wondered — what if he was to create similar portraits for all the greats of contemporary art?
Arakkal belonged to the royal family of Arakkal; however, he lost his parents at the age of six, and admitted that it was this pain that later translated onto his canvasses as well. Although he loved both football and art as a child, by the time he hit his teens, he knew which he wanted to pursue.