Thomas Antony’s caricatures speak a different language. They are abstract, colourful and highly expressive. They show an unseen side of prominent figures without distorting their basic features. Thomas, who has been a caricaturist for the past 35 years, says he realised the abstract style’s potential while participated in an event in Hyderabad long ago. Thomas, who was there to receive the Heart Animation Art Award, met the popular animation director Jon Mc Cain.
Thomas says that was the turning point in his life. “My in abstract style were my experiments. I had no deep knowledge about it. I just tried. He asked me whether I had organised any shows abroad. I said I hadn’t. He took my address, sent it to curators, and thus I started getting invitations to exhibit my works abroad,” says Thomas, who has many national and international awards to his credit.
He is the recipient of the World Press Cartoon Award, United Nations Political Cartoon Award, Free Cartoon Award, Kerala Lalithakala Akademi Cartoon Award, National Film Academy Award and India International Cartoon Award. His caricatures have found a place in the World Press Cartoon Book for the past ten years. He has conducted shows in places like Romania, Iran, Portugal, China and Brazil. In total, he has done 55 international shows.
His exhibition Face happening at Kerala Lalithakala Akademi Art Gallery in Kottayam is a compilation of 30 such abstract portraits. From politicians Manmohan Singh, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Robert Mugabe, to film actor Morgan Freeman, photographer Nikut and spiritual guru Sathya Sai Baba, a bunch of great personalities adorn the walls of the gallery.
Thomas says this style is a risky affair. “No matter what experiments we do in caricature, our success lies in audience recognising the face,” says Thomas, who does portraits in watercolour, a difficult medium. “The painting would take only a few hours, say one or two. The time-consuming part is researching about the personality. I go through as many documents I could get my hands on before doing the sketch. I study about their lifestyle and take notes on their features. For instance, Vajpayee’s interesting features are his chin and lips. So, I have focused on those elements and do the portrait,” explains Thomas, who was caricaturist for two prominent Malayalam dailies.
He attributes his growth as a caricaturist to those days. “Every day, I had to come up with an idea. It was tiring, but let me explore my talent. It inspired me to try different styles,” he confesses. “It was then that I tried colour caricature, too. Those days, black and white caricatures were in vogue. I asked my editorial team to try colour caricatures. They were hesitant at first; however, finally we published them to rave reviews,” he recalls.
Although he has retired from active journalism, his penchant for experiment is still ablaze. Right now, he is working on a new project, experimenting with the angle of the subject.
Face is open till July 16 from 11 am to 7 pm....