Past Events

Ravi Varma & His Contemporaries

Kerala Museum, Kochi

A Stellar Success

The Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation’s first outreach in Kochi was an absolute success in all respects. From associating with the Kerala Museum, a veritable venue for an event of this magnitude, to bringing in speakers of the calibre of Rupika Chawla, noted historian, conservator and author, and Manu S. Pillai, the popular author and favoured son of the Kerala masses, the event - a conversation between the two on Raja Ravi Varma and His Contemporaries - was a standout.

Drop the name Ravi Varma and it starts a conversation and brings in the crowds; the Foundation over the last couple of years has raised the standards by unveiling new projects and new speakers while staying true to the great artist’s ideals. Rupika and Manu may not be new in that respect but to get them together on a stage, discuss and throw light on Ravi Varma and His Contemporaries to an audience starved of such an enlightened conversation was indeed heartening and unprecedented.

From the time the event was conceptualized the interest from the locals in Kochi was at a high and unsurprisingly it peaked as the D-day dawned on December 7. The Botanical project outreach in Thiruvananthapuram a few months ago was a start, but Kochi proved to be a thunder strike, as it not only brought in the crowds by the droves, it was an event that was unparalleled in its execution.

While the talk – scheduled for the evening generated tremendous interest in the knowledgeable art community in Kochi, the Foundation created history in one fell swoop, displaying 11 original oil paintings all through the day at the Kerala Museum. Graciously loaned by its patrons and private collectors from around the country, owing to the Foundation’s work and reach, the Foundation put on display some never before seen spectacular works by Ravi Varma and His Contemporaries, namely his brother C. Raja Raja Varma, son Rama Varma, Mukundan Tampi, Sekhara Warrier and C. Neelakanta Pillai.

The fact that private collectors were keen to associate and display the works makes the Foundation’s ideals crystal clear: to promote and preserve the legacy of Ravi Varma and importantly, carry forward the work of the great artist, whose burning ambition was to ensure his works would reach far and wide and not just be confined to the palaces and homes of a chosen few.

Gitanjali Maini, Managing Trustee and CEO of the Foundation set the ball rolling after Aditi Nayar of the Kerala Museum introduced the Foundation to the audience. Gitanjali welcomed the huge gathering that spilled out of the main Rohini Hall and into a second venue where it was simulcast live. Eloquently putting forth the work being done by the Foundation, Gitanjali, who conceptualized the event, dwelt on TRRVHF’s aim in spreading its reach and bringing it to a wider audience. The packed gathering, up until then unaware of the Foundation’s work, understood and realized the magnitude of its work, reach and goals. Gitanjali walked off the stage to a loud applause while ushering in the protagonists of the evening – Rupika and Manu.

Rupika, whose book Raja Ravi Varma: The Painter of Colonial India, is a watershed in many respects, given that she researched, compiled and corroborated all the information prior to the digital era, took the audience through Ravi Varma’s journey as a man, a painter and a pioneer. Significantly, Rupika chose the occasion to release the Malayalam translation of her sell-out book and it was picked up by many.

It was then on to Manu, and little else needs to be said of one of the country’s finest authors and historians. A walking encyclopedia, Manu is a treasure trove of tales and anecdotes, based on endless hours of research and digging into archives all over the globe. As a speaker, Manu commands attention anywhere, and if it happens to be in Kerala, his holding power just soars through the roof.

It was a memorable evening; the delight and awe of the attendees on getting an unbelievable opportunity to see the original paintings, was fulfilling for the Foundation, a fact which Jay Varma, the bearer of the Ravi Varma legacy and Trustee of the Foundation, mentioned in his vote of thanks.

TRRVHF would like to acknowledge Castle & Cook, the caterers for the evening, who, inspired by the Botanical project that the Foundation created in April, brought out an exclusive menu incorporating the Botanical elements in Ravi Varma’s works.

It just shows the great artist is truly inspiring and not confined to any one strata of society.

Click here to view invitation.

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