When Kokila, a Canada-based artist exhibits her paintings abroad, visitors comment about the colours. She said she uses colours abundantly because the “colours of India” are in her. “Colours are in our genes,” she said.
A medley of experiences and colours is what one finds in the paintings of Kokila, an artist who belongs to Mangalore and has been living abroad for the last four decades. With art in the family (her mother Vimala Ramachandra is a Mangalore-based artist), she grew up dabbling in paints and learnt painting from mentor B. C. Mohammed and art teachers at St. Ann Higher Secondary School, in Mangalore. She took art classes at George Brown College, Toronto, from Canadian artist Stefan Galvanek.
Other paintings inspired by Dakshina Kannada are ‘Kaadu’, done in various shades of dark green, to show the forests of the Western Ghats as they look especially fetching during the monsoon. Yet another is ‘Dibbana’, an umbrella, which is decorated and held over the bride during a wedding procession. ‘Kamadhenu’ and ‘Nagarahole’ are also themes borrowed from her travels. The latter shows elephants camouflaged in forests around them.
She said many of her paintings are inspired by her environment. So there is ‘Uttarayana’, an acrylic of colourful kites flying in the sky. This was inspired by her childhood spent in Mangalore, when she made kites at home with her friends. “Then we would use tissue paper, newspaper, string and broomsticks and see whose kite would fly higher,” she said.
Ms. Kokila said she liked the challenge of painting ‘movement’, especially of dancers. So she has painted the swirling skirts of ‘Whirling dervishes’. She also likes the viewer to engage with the painting, to ponder, and to see the details as in the painting titled ‘Samudra Apsaras’ (‘Ocean fairies’) in which the waves hide within them tiny figures, left for the viewer to spot.