Four years ago, in a Thiruvananthapuram classroom, eighth grader Abhiram Suresh was at his desk, drawing a Math diagram with his compass during recess, when his friends were playing cricket with chalk and cardboard. One chalk – probably a sixer – landed in front of Abhiram. He took it in his hands, and with the compass sculpted it into a heart shape. That was his first piece of chalk art. Now, a 12th grader at the St Joseph’s School in Thiruvananthapuram, Abhiram is a seasoned chalk artist, having exhibited his sculptures several times for the public.
“I have had a few solo exhibitions, put together by the Tint Academy for Art, where I have been a student for nine years now,” says Abhiram, on a day he does not have school. At Tint, he has learnt drawing and painting in different mediums, relief art work and sculpting too.
Abhiram reckons that his parents would have put him in Tint because of some ‘artistic leanings’ in the family. “My uncle is a soap sculptor for instance. He told me that we should find a different medium where we could prove ourselves. So that day in eighth grade, when I made this heart sculpture with chalk, I knew I had found a medium for myself.”
The first proper chalk sculpture he did is of a fist, Abhiram says. “I showed it to our class teacher, who could not believe that it was chalk. So she drew on the board with it. At first I was worried it’d lose shape but her drawing brought a slope to the fist, which I realised was needed.”
Many more shapes and structures followed – a cobra, Ganesha, Minions, Chhota Bheem and abstract faces. Abhiram uses a sewing needle and a knife-like blade for sculpting. The one real face he sculpted is of Mohanlal from Odiyan for a competition of creative exhibits held as part of the movie’s promotions in Lulu Mall, Kochi. “Director Shrikumar Menon had tweeted my sculpture,” says the teen artist.
He is very aware of his age. Abhiram talks about taking some commissioned work for pencil drawings but not anything bigger, for he is ‘still too young for all that’. But on his Facebook page, he makes portraits of stars like Vijay, Suriya and Mohanlal. When it is paintings, he says, he prefers nature. “I do all kinds of paintings, portraits or landscapes or abstract. But it is mostly nature that I like to paint.”
Apart from his solo art exhibitions, he is occasionally invited to put up his work at cultural events. There was a programme by Purogamana Kala Sahitya Sangham last year. And next Sunday there is another event by a group called Nirav. Abhiram is a busy young man. Not that it’s affected his studies much. “I think I am ok there,” he says, mentioning the 86% and 84% that he has got in the last two years. But once Class 12 is over, it is straight to Fine Arts College, Thiruvananthapuram, for Abhiram.