Renowned artist Yusuf Arakkal died at his residence in Bengaluru on Tuesday. He was 71 and had been undergoing treatment for the past few months.
Besides winning the National Award in 1983, Arakkal was a recipient of several awards, including the Raja Ravi Varma award.
Born into a royal family at Chavakkad in Kerala, both his parents passed away when he was just seven, he disclosed in an interview to The Hindu. To get over his grief, he immersed himself in drawing and won several awards in high school and even at the state level.
However, with no support forthcoming from his family for his art, he left home and landed in Bengaluru with only seven rupees in his pocket, he said, while still in his teens.
After struggling for the next 18 months to make ends meet, he got employed in HAL as a mechanicâ€™s helper.
Thereafter, he joined the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath to hone his craft. Being a keen observer of people and situations, these found expression in his paintings.
An early riser, he worked for an average of 10 hours every day on his art. Over 35 solo shows of his have been organised at various places in India, including Delhi, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Chennai and Thiruvananthapuram.
Besides being an artist, he was also a sculptor and wrote poetry.
Looking at the art scene of today, Arakkal had said that when he had wanted to take up art, people reacted condescendingly. But now, parents are even going to the extent of forcing their children to study art which is a welcome change.
Condoling his death, senior artist S.G. Vasudev said, "He was one of the most significant figurative artist with a style of his own. He has influenced so many young artists."