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MV Devan: Eye of the Artist

On 29th April, 2014, MV Devan passed away. He was born on January 15, 1928, to Madathil Govindan Gurukkal and Mulloli Madhavi in Kannur. My husband's family knew him well. 

As a person who respects writers, artists and musicians, I too felt a sense of  loss on hearing about MV Devan's demise. But I believe that artists are those rare, blessed people who never 'die.' Their legacy lasts forever.

                                                            {Credit: Google Images}

MV Devan: A Different Kind of an Artist
Many factors make MV Devan a different kind of artist. Artists, in the eyes of the society, are known to lead gypsy-like, wandering lives and hearts.  It is said that the heart and soul of an artist is as mysterious as the sea and cannot belong to another. It definitely remains a mystery how MV Devan remained a true-to-heart family man. His love and commitment to his family, particularly his beloved wife, is well known. That, indeed, is a rarity among artists.

Another interesting aspect – MV Devan had no formal training in sculpting but he demonstrated his passion and flair for it. While his art took him to different creative realms, his love for writing is also noteworthy. He has written on various topics concerned with art and literature. He was associated with several literary magazines as well. 

Again, this multi-faceted artist made his mark by becoming an architect though he was not a trained one. He designed houses in association with FACT Engineering and Design Organization (FEDO) that suited Kerala’s unique environmental conditions. These structures came to known as “Deven model” and were appreciated for the artistic approach in his designs that made it stand apart.

A much cited example of MK Devan’s design work is the guesthouse that overlooks the Periyar.

MV Devan also held important positions as the chairman of Kerala Lalitha Kala Academy. He played a significant role to play in establishing Chennai Cholamandalam, Kochi Kalapeetam and Mahe Kalagramam.  He has won prominent awards such as the Raja Ravi Varma Award, Kerala Sahitya Academy Award, Malayatoor award and V P Menon award.

MV Devan: My First and Last 'Meeting' with him 
My first and last glimpse of MV Devan, the eminent painter, sculptor, writer, art critic and orator was on the day of my marriage. 

Just twenty minutes after the 'thaalikettu' (tying of the mangalsutra), MV Devan came on stage. He talked to my husband like a good, old friend. Then he blessed me by touching my head and then he turned and whispered something to my husband. After he left, Sanand told me, "MV Devan said about you 'Oru Deviyeh poley undu. Sthreethwam niranja mugham." It is difficult to explain the English translation of this but when it is from an artist such as MV Devan, it means a lot to the recipient.

It was on the day of my marriage and this is the most beautiful compliment that I have received in my life on that special day. I remain always grateful to him for his beautiful, heart lifting words to me.

This quote is my tribute to the artist MV Devan and it comes from an artist, Hollie Chastain:

 I think as an artist it’s very easy to [equate self-worth with artistic success] because of the nature of the work. If you think of art as a job, then your product is so much more than hours invested. The product is a piece of yourself, so of course if the reception is not the greatest, then it can feel like a direct hit to who you are as a person. I think this happened a lot more when I was younger and still finding my way around. I would doubt my direction when a viewer wasn’t thrilled. The trick for me is not to put more distance between my work and myself, but to close that gap completely. I can see myself in the art that I create, and that builds a wall of confidence.

MV Devan and his art remains with us forever. Now more than ever, there is no wall separating the artist from his art – with this passage into a realm beyond life, MV Devan has closed the gap and become one with art.

May this artist’s soul rest in peace.
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