The artist on the move

The artist on the move


V. Balan, born at Perumbavoor, Kerala, on 17th October 1942 as son of Chellamma and Venketachelam Pillai, was the youngest of four children.He took a diploma from the Cochin School of Art in 1962 and taught there from 1963 to 1966. Next year he joined the teaching staff at St. Albert’s High School, Ernakulam.

Balan moved to Madras in 1970 as a freelance artist. He did several works in theatres, hotels and public places all over India. 1972 was a turning point in his life:

Balan dis his firs mosaic art of the Risen Lord fro a chapel at the Salesian Provincialate in Chennai. During the next decade Balan did hundreds of church interiors which brought him fame. he came to be known as a Christian artist and architect.

In 1982 Balan moved to Bangalore and established his studio, Arte Sacra, near the NBCLC. In 1983 he visited Europe to observe Christian art and architecture. This enhanced the artist in him. In 1984 Balan realized his dream of setting up a permanent studio in a 4 acre plot, Tapovan at Kothanur, off Lingarajapuram. It also contained Kalakshetra, a place for training young artists. With this better set-up Balan forayed into creations of extraordinary quality. His fame began to spread all over India, Sree Lanka and even Germany and Papua New Guinea.

As years passed by, Balan attained perfection and precision in all what he did. At Tapovan he led the simple life or an ashramite. He was a bachelor dedicated to art and nothing else. Around 2000, the year of Kristhu Jayanti, Balan accelerated his efforts to cope with the demand that came from different parts of the country for his works. During this time, on the insistence of friends, he built a house for himself and his sister, Ponnammal, who has been taking care of him for years. It was inaugurated on his 59th birthday. The ever unassuming Balan was widely known after doing nearly 1000 churches, big and small alike. These works bear witness to his artistic style.

“The Strain of Labour” was the theme of an early painting by Balan. On 22nd January 2002, while working Balan suddenly collapsed due to “the strain of ceaseless labour”. His mortal remains were cremated at Tapovan on 23 January 2002 at 4 pm.

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