Yusuf Arakkal

Yusuf Arakkal was born in 1945 to a royal family in Chevakkad, Kerala. Both his parents died when he was seven and with no forthcoming support from the rest of his family towards his dream of pursuing art, he decided to run away from home. Surviving on his own at such a young age meant he went through a lot of hardships. This constant struggle to survive naturally translates into his works and lends them a dark, brooding air. He often depicts the ignored lower strata of society and their constant struggle. Most of his works are done in abstract and he uses a sombre colour palette to depict the underbelly of the city and the city dweller’s dismal living conditions. He obtained a diploma in painting from the Chitrakala Parishath College of Art, Bangalore in 1973 following which he did a specialization in graphic printmaking from the National Academy community studios in Delhi. His masterpiece work ‘Bacon’s Man with the Child and Priest’ won the prestigious Lorenzo De Medici Gold medal at the Florence International Biennale. He was honoured with the Karnataka Lalit Kala Akademi award in the year 1979 and 1981 respectively and the national award in 1983. He didn’t restrict himself to any form or medium and also dabbled in murals and sculptures. His brief stint working at HAL while he was still a student also went on to influence him and he used materials like steel and copper in his sculptures. He also received a special award at the third Asian Art Biennale held at Dhaka, Bangladesh in 1986. Arakkal was an exceptional figurative artist with a highly individual style. He had over 30 solo shows in India and also exhibited his works internationally in cities like New York, Paris, London & Hong Kong to name a few. The artist passed away on 4th October 2016 at the age of 70. ;