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Knowing the public art of Suresh K Nair

Knowing the public art of Suresh K Nair

Painter Suresh K Nair was born and brought up in Kerala. An alumnus of Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune and Visva Bharati University, Santiniketan, he is currently teaching art in the department of painting at Banaras Hindu University (BHU). Nair has acquired a major presence in art spaces both in India and abroad for his Kerala-style murals. His monumental painting Cosmic Butterfly was exhibited in Essl Museum, Vienna, Austria in 2010. He has been awarded the Kerala Lalithakala Akademi award from the government of Kerala, Elizabeth Green Shield Foundation Scholarship and Earth Day network award (Washington) along with various exchange programs and research projects. He and his students are actively involved in promoting art through various public art projects like turning shabby walls and neglected garbage dump sites into beautiful wall murals.

Mural by the Artist

“I got a job in Banaras in 2007. When you first come to the city you feel there are so many dirty and unorganised places that the government is not taking care of. After walking around the city for a few days, I recognised many different places and came up with the idea of setting up wall murals there,” says Suresh K. Nair. Hailing from Kerala, 45-year-old Suresh is a renowned mural artist. He moved to Varanasi as the assistant professor in the department of painting at Banaras Hindu University and together with his visual arts students, he started the Public Art Project to give the city a new look.

Mural by the Artist

Till today, they have painted about 25 beautiful murals on walls across the city. They started with private places like hotels, clubs, schools and houses, but have slowly moved to public places with the support of the government. Depending on the size, completion of one mural takes about a week or more.

Mural by the Artist

A private school opposite the BHU campus had invited Suresh and his students to work in a portion of the school that had almost turned into a garbage dumping area. They erected a wall and painted murals representing the five elements of nature with symbols like birds, fish, etc. Other than his students, Suresh also tried to involve local workers in this project.

All Pictures: Suresh K. Nair


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  • The Archmage of the Æther

    Mr. Suresh is a great man, a real hero in our community. What this article did not mention is that, following his example, now in Varanasi others too are decorating their outer and inner walls with similar murals: the man has begun an aesthetic revolution. Beauty returns to Kashi, thanks to this fine Keralan sir.

    This one man has changed the south side of Varanasi for a generation. And, he is gentle and kind. A hero.

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There is a connection, hard to explain logically but easy to feel, between achievement in public life and progress in the arts.

John F. Kennedy