It's me, says Jimmy Mathew, pointing to his abstract work. A cross-legged figure in turquoise blue – his favourite colour – reclines on a red throne set against a black and white background. A grasshopper rests on the figure’s feet while broken bottles can be seen flying all around. “This – Retrospective of an Artist – was done six years ago while I was recovering from severe alcoholism. This grasshopper is my luck, my saviour from the dark past,” begins Jimmy as his voice echoes in the big hall of Indian Institute Architects in Kochi, where his 35 works are on display.
Admitting that he is a self-taught artist, this Kottayam resident says that art has been so alive in him since childhood that he couldn’t settle in any other job. The paintings prove that his decision to turn full-time artist was right. Nature, spirituality and abstractness are what he captures on canvas.
In fact, teaming up with a few architecture friends changed the course of his career. “Since then, I have been mostly working for interior designs. Such works range from landscapes, floral designs and abstracts. I discuss with the interior designers before beginning the work. Sometimes I visit the site and plan according to the furniture, theme of the place, background colour and the client’s taste,” elaborates Jimmy, whose paintings – mostly acrylic –adorn the walls of more than 50 houses and motels.
Also a graphic artist, Jimmy feels that artists never get enough respect from people. “I do not have any formal training and hence is not part of huge art circles. But I think people consider artists as those with nothing to do. Of course it doesn’t offer you fat paychecks, but creativity is not given its due.”
He has the luck of being part of the first edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in 2015 where he assisted noted Chinese artist Zhang Enli.
“Working with him was a great experience. His style has influenced me in becoming a better person and artist,” Jimmy says, adding the international platform has been a boon to artists in Kerala.
As the conversation winds to a close, Jimmy stands facing his art, very much like his painting Blossom, in which a 12-year-old girl is seen watching pink cherry blossoms – reflecting her budding life and her hopes for future....