Kerala-born veteran artist Yusuf Arakkal died on Tuesday morning, after suffering a heart attack, at the age of 71. The Bengaluru-based artist was internationally known and received numberous awards for his work, including the National Award in 1983 and the Raja Ravi Varma Puraskaram in 2013.
According to a Mathrubhumi report, Arakkal had been undergoing treatment for age-related illnesses for quite a while. He is survived by his wife Sara Arakkal and son Shibu Arakkal.
Born in Chavakkad, Thrissur, in Arakkal is known for his contribution to the world of abstract and contemporary art. He had been trained under Jaya Varma (the grand nephew of Raja Ravi Varma) and was an alum of the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishad as well.
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His last exhibition, Faces of Creativity, comprised a series of 135 portraits of eminent personalities from the world of contemporary art – all rendered in pen and ink, on reversed canvases. Though the idea for the project reportedly germinated during a trip to London 10 years back. But it was only in the past three years, that the artist put pen to canvas.
Jayanthi Madhukar, in an article for The Hindu, called the series “rather unusual”. Curiously, Arakkal wanted his series to be sold only as one compositie work, and not individually. It was with this in mind that he also intended for the series to be launched in the form of a book.
Arakkal’s passing away is being mourned by the entire art community. Senior artist SG Vasudev, who condoled his death, told The Hindu, “He was one of the most significant figurative artist with a style of his own. He has influenced so many young artists.” Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw had tweeted: “My dear friend Yusuf Arakkal passed away this morning. A great artist whose works made an indelible impression on the art world RIP”.
Other friends and admirers have taken to various social media platforms to condole his death, fondly remembering not only his work, but the person, and especially his warm sense of humour.