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  Life   More Features  09 Jul 2017  Connecting lines

Connecting lines

Published : Jul 9, 2017, 12:20 am IST
Updated : Jul 9, 2017, 12:20 am IST

Architect couple A.R. Jayakrishnan, known as JK, and his wife Chitra Nair tell how his sketches were put up for an exhibition in the capital.

A.R. Jayakrishnan
 A.R. Jayakrishnan

Boys and girls are on top of stools, hanging sketches — black lines on white paper. Below them stands Chitra Nair, giving directions, rushing between the 35 frames put up for an exhibition that begins in a few hours. She is not the artist, JK is, she says to a visitor, asking for the creator. He is at the terrace, sitting at a corner, looking preoccupied, a kurtha on him, a ponytail falling forward. JK — A.R. Jayakrishnan in full — completes the picture of an artist by speaking less and letting Chitra do all the talking. "I am his naaku," she says, laughing, as they take turns to tell the story, of how these sketches have now come to hang at the Alliance Francaise de Trivandrum, for a show curated by Latha Kurien Rajeev.


They are an architect couple and had once studied together at the College of Engineering, Thiruvananthapuram. "He used to sketch really well in college," she says. But when he got into practise, he lost touch, he only sketched for work. Together they formed the JCJR partnership. And then a few years ago, sketching came back to his life. It must have been with the coming of Peter Rich, renowned South African architect, reckons Chitra. "He came to Thiruvananthapuram once, and he wanted to see the city. He began something called 'sketch and walk', to get a record of the city. JK and Peter became very close. They both believe that everyone can sketch. Even last month they took a sketching trip together to Hampi."


He doesn't travel just for fun, he says. It is serious travel, it is architectural travel. "We even design the travel, so you can guess," he says, smiling. They retrace modernity, observe the different monuments and philosophies. "Observation is the key here. When you observe something you are imprinting it in your mind. When you look at that tree," Chitra points outside the terrace, "you need to observe how long it is, how big the leaves are, how the branches are connected, to be able to sketch it. It is all about scale and proportion." When she speaks like that, you are sure she can sketch too. "I will accompany him the next time he goes to his Asian Sketch Line meet in Malayasia."

That is part of Urban Sketchers, a worldwide organisation — a travelling symbosium which recognised there is quite a lot to be covered from Asia alone, and launched ASL. For last year's ASL in Bangkok, JK had ten minutes to represent India, and he spoke of Kerala. Line drawing is very important in Kerala, he said — it comes in kolam, kalamezhuthu, makeup for Kathakali and Theyyam. "Colours come only in between the lines," he says.


Those lines of art are part of the exhibition titled Life Lines at the Alliance Francaise. "It is the first public show, but often on Saturday mornings, a group of us come together to sketch," he says. At the gallery are easily identifiable outlines of Thiruvananthapuram's favourite structures — the Napier Museum, the VJT Hall, Padmanabha Swamy Temple and Palayam church, Sanskrit and University colleges etc. After that, the sketches spread to other cities — Fort Kochi, to other countries — Finland, Cambodia and Singapore. Only his sketch of the Singapore Symbosium comes with a bit of colour.

There'll also be coffee mugs and posters with the imprints of his sketches. The exhibition ends July 15.

Tags: latha kurien rajeev, a.r. jayakrishnan