Unsung Heroes

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Granting Life To Barren Sand

The different forms of art are as varied as the different kinds of artists. But the core factor that remains same with every kind of art and artist is in the expression of a vibrant mind through a medium for the enjoyment of the common man, and in doing so help the individual in discovering his own identity and the values he needs to stand for. For most form of arts, some sort of a canvas is required where the artist can reproduce his thoughts and intentions in the way he/she wants it depicted. But what happens when your medium of expression is none other than Mother Nature herself? Deepak Mouthatil is one such artist; his medium of art –  sand.


One thing to be understood with a genuine artist is never to ask what made him turn to being an artist. Like Deepak says, with a humble smile: “It just came naturally to me. I drew pictures even when I was a kid. And when I grew up, I just continued with it, on sand.”


A graduate from Fine Arts College, Trivandrum, this young sculptor heard that voice from the ground some five years back.



Kamala Suraiyya



“Actually it isn't much of an innovative thing that I do,” says Deepak. “Everytime you visit a beach you always see a child, or even grown ups, making that sand mountain with a cave at the base. And that's how I started myself.”

But with Deepak, sand sculpturing soon turned into an obsession. And the mostly negative 'words of wisdom' he received from people around him only helped this young man further persist with his obsession. But critics were soon silenced as beauty and precision began to be born straight from earth itself. To add to his credit, Deepak has managed to accomplish it all by himself, with no teachers or mentors to guide him or help him. His teachers were the mistakes he made, his mentor, the undying craving to succeed in his goal.




“Don't ask me why I chose sand of all things for my artwork; I just don't know,” Deepak lays down the reply even before the question was asked.


A talented painter, Deepak was already equipped with the base required for an artist to see the images form on the unevenly spread beach sand within his mind. But to replicate this imagination into reality is an arduous job requiring not just skill, but an immense amount of patience as well.




Seetha Devi


“The toughest job is collecting the sand. Usually, for an average sculpture I make, I need sand to be piled over five foot in height. Then the sand has to be mixed with the right amount of water to make it adhesive. I start off from the top of this sand pyramid and work my way downwards, adding one feature after the other. The entire work requires around three and a half - four hours, on average.”

Deepak Mouthatil has not yet received the recognition that this talented artist deserves. But calls do arrive on his mobile phone from a whole lot of places, mostly to wish him the best with his passion. Deepak always reflects a social cause in each sculpture that he carve out from the sand. His latest was that of Anna Hazare, which he did at Sanghumugham beach, a few days back.




“I respect that man for the adamant stand that he has taken against corruption. But I was very much disappointed to see that hardly anyone voiced their support for the man and his cause in our state. So in my quest to do something about it, I decided to do an 'Anna Hazare' at Sanghumugham. Previously I have also done one on the Endosulphan issue.”

The sculptures that you see finished after hours of hard work by the artist would seem too good to be made with nothing but sand and water. The finish and the life that each sculpture seems to radiate, would make an onlooker take a second, third and a very close fourth look to convince himself that it is nothing but sand that has given birth to such an exquisite piece of art work. But what surprises even more is that the only tools Deepak uses to form these amazing sculptures are his very own bare hands!





“I did all of it with my hands,” he says, glancing at his palms. “I never felt the need for any other tools. Sand figures are fragile; a minute difference in the pressure applied is enough to form cracks and bring down that part of the figure. So, I prefer my own touch with the sand to make sure I do it right with each feature, from each angle.”

For the skeptics, the argument always lies valid as to what exactly is the purpose that sand sculpturing will serve the artist. After all, hours of hard work do bring out some magnificent portraits, but for how long? Sand sculptures most often than not have a life span lesser than the amount of time spent in making them.



“It doesn't matter,” Deepak shakes his head with a nonchalant smile - “ Sand sculptures are made live, right in the midst of the people who surround you to watch the figure being made. There is no scope for any betrayal or malpractice. What I do is honest to the bottom of my heart and the people who see it, get that same feeling. That helps immensely with whatever message I am trying to convey to them; they would see my point because I am being nothing but straight forward and honest with them. I don't think there are many other forms of art where you get to be this honest about your work of art, while involved in its creation.”

One obvious thing that remains to be clarified is about the amount of strain required for making these sculptures. So many hours of non-stop hardwork; won't the man feel fatigued? “No,” Deepak once again shakes his head. “It is funny actually, but when you are in the process of forming the sculpture you won't notice the amount of time that passes by. When you are finished and see the work that you have done with so much of involvement from your heart, it is not tiredness that you feel, but elation; you feel stronger and more energetic than you were when you started with it. If it was the other way round I wouldn't have made it so far with this.”





What makes this talented artist an unsung hero is the way he creates his artwork, and the ideals he coneys to the onlooker through it. While most artists prefer the ice of a recluse, away from humanity in general to give birth to their creation, Deepak Mouthatil prefers to have it done right in the midst of a crowd, so that no one ever doubts the sincerity with which he carries out his work of creativity. It doesn't take this man any sidetracks stained with use and abuse of intoxicants to reach that world from where inspiration is garnered; for Deepak, a mere glance onto the sand with the cool sea breeze blowing past him is enough to make him see the pictures that lie hidden beneath the ground he stands upon and the message it has got within that needs to be let known to the human kind; and thus begins the process of this young artist granting life to the barren sand. 



By Mukesh Venu

Posted By : Deepa, On Sep 15, 2011 06:12:02 AM
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Every hero's desire is to be able to pass on his idea of goodwill to at least one other listener or an onlooker. Having been a witness to Deepak's dedication at the shores, I can confirm this to you that the silent voice born out of his art is heard and appreciated by many. Want to congratulate Mukesh for this very stimulating write-up.
Chishroh, on Sep 28, 2011 02:54:36 PM
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