Nithin Joseph's art is focused on birds, ships, Kathakali dancers and women
By Shevlin Sebastian
One day in 2005, Nithin Joseph was sitting in a class at the KVM College of Nursing, Cherthala. The principal, Prof. Saroja, was giving a lecture. Feeling bored, Nithin drew a pen portrait of the teacher. During the class, a classmate showed the paper to Saroja. Instead of getting angry, Saroja priased the talent of Nithin. “That was when I realised that I had a knack for painting,” says Nithin.
After passing out, Nithin joined Wellcare Hospital as a male nurse. Whenever he could get some spare time, he would paint. A desire arose in him to put up an exhibition. But since he was self taught and had no formal training, he was finding it difficult to find a space. But through fortuitous circumstances, he got a slot at the prestigious Durbar Hall for a few days. He worked in a frenzy and got 25 paintings ready. “The theme is Nature,” he says. “That is why I called it 'Rhythm of Nature'.” It is a mix of acrylic, pencil and oil paintings.
And Nithin has got inspired from the most ordinary of circumstances. Once when he was walking on the road, he saw a match box. When he stooped to pick it up, he noticed that it was of a foreign make. It showed a young man, with a broad forehead, cupping a matchstick to light his cigarette. The face sort of glows from the impact of the fire. “I did it in the manner of Raja Ravi Varma's 'Lady with a lamp',” he says.
Because his father works as a master craftsman in the Indian Navy, there are a few paintings of ships. In one, Nithin drew an 18th century wooden ship, with several billowing sails, and a pointed tip sailing over choppy waters. “I saw this particular photo in the lobby of the office of the Spices Board of India and decided to reproduce it,” he says.
Most of the young painter's work are copies. So, he has done the back of a half-naked woman, covered in a loose white saree, sitting on the ground and looking sideways. “Women are the most beautiful creatures on earth,” he says. “A man's back will not be that appealing.”
He also finds the Kathakali art form very appealing. “In Cherthala, many performances would take place and I would attend quite a few,” he says. Once, one of the make-up artistes painted his face just like a proper performer. At the exhibition, Nithin has done a few life-like paintings of Kathakali artistes.
One of his original works is of two white owls resting on the branch of a tree, with white flowers embedded in them. The eyes of the owls are wide open and a blue and white tinge in the background indicates that it is a moonlit night. “People normally don't like owls, so I wanted to show how beautiful they are,” he says.
But undoubtedly, Nithin's strong point is his pencil drawings. A drawing of a half-naked distraught prostitute, with long hair, lying on a beach is eye-catching. Standing next to her is a woman who wants to save her. There are the Christian motifs of a chalice and rosary beads nearby.
At Wellcare, doctors encourage him to take up painting seriously. “Once when I made a mistake, a doctor told me, 'You are an artist, so I am not scolding you',” he says.
At the exhbition, Nithin has got many positive responses. He has been able to sell three of his works. “But nearly all the visitors have told me that they like my pencil drawings the best,” he says. “So, I am going to concentrate on that from now on.” Incidentally, thus far, at the request of friends and acquaintances, he has done 89 pencil sketches. This is an artist with a bright future.
(The New Indian Express, Kochi)