Francis Kodankandath’s work “Back in My Eden” is a tribute to his mother
“I express my instantaneous thoughts and emotions into the art I create. Colours may be the medium behind vibrancy but the meaning behind my art is what gives it its life and purpose. Empathy is a strong emotion I feel when I create, coupled with my peculiar imagination, a piece of me born into existence with simple strokes. As years pass by, so have my selection of the mediums that I use to give life to a canvas or any material. I have been empathizing with nature heavily as I grow older and by doing so I have started switching to more organic materials such as khadi canvases and natural colours to express my soul for the world to see. My art is my diary, my art is my empathy”.
The words of the renowned artist Francis Antony Kodankandath epitomize his philosophy of his artistry. Small wonder that his work titled “Back in My Eden” is presently being showcased – from August 14 to 26 – in the international exhibition “Another Day in Paradise” in Venice, Italy. The painting was selected by the Biennale Austria Association for the show in which works of 55 artists from the fields of crossover sound art, photography, graphics, installation, kinetic art, painting and performance on the subject of “Life in Paradise – now or later and how” are being presented. Francis is the only artist selected from India.
Tribute to mother
While speaking on the theme of his work “Back in My Eden” – 60 x 80 cm mixed media on canvas – Francis seemed to wax his eloquence, “As a piece of fulfillment and contentment, ‘Paradise’ is expected to give exceptional peace, happiness and delight without any botheration or responsibility. ‘Paradise’ is also considered to be the ultimate destiny of the soul. The concept of ‘Another Day in Paris’ brings us to the reunion with the divine and takes us to a level of experience that leads to the perfection of God’s creation.
Here we can visualize light, flowing like a river which starts floating and springs to a full bloom of flowers and butterflies. In this stage of evolution human beings in the form of an embryo, stay detached from all these elements of so called ‘Paradise’, as it was there inside the womb of the mother. My mother gave birth to me in the year 1960 through a Caesarean which was considered to be a very risky affair during that time period and in a remote place called Moovattupuzha, Kerala”. Admittedly, it is a tribute to his mother.
At the UN and more
Participation in international exhibitions has been a way of life for Francis who is a self taught artist. His solo exhibitions across the world alone count more than 55. A series on Mahatma Gandhi consisting of 16 paintings were selected by the UN and exhibited at the UN Head Quarters General Assembly Hall, while commemorating the International Day of Non-Violence on October 2nd, 2018 being the 150th birth centenary of the Father of the Nation’. Florence Biennale 2015 and London Biennale 2018 were others. In Florence, Francis won the 10th Florence Biennale Medal for the painting titled ‘Application for the Patent of a Paper Boat’. He was honoured by the Central Akademi in 2004 and by the State Akademi in 1986, 1989 and 1993. In 2004 he was selected for the Triennial and National Awardees Exhibition. He has to his credit a large collection of his paintings on world celebrities as well.
Equally spectacular have been Francis’ achievements in his profession as an IRS officer in the Customs and Central Excise Department. Before he retired as Assistant Commissioner at the Cochin International Airport in 2020, he had seized Rs 523 crore worth smuggled gold and narcotics for which he was honoured by the government of India ten times. Myriad have been the rewards from the government for more than 203 risky operations he had conducted in his career.