New Delhi: It took Mayena, an art curator from France, no time to decide on buying the painting that stuck her eyes at the India Art Fest. A banner on top of the counter read the artist’s name as Surumi Mammootty. Having glanced at the banner, Mayena asked the artist where she hailed from. Her answer, ‘Kerala’, triggered a smile of familiarity on Mayena’s face. Maybe the lady would learn someday that the artist was the daughter of Mammootty, the great actor from Kerala. The painting on nature that she is taking to France is the result of over a month’s hard work by the artist.
Surumi is taking part in the India Art Fest at the Constitution Club along with Deepshikha Khaitan, her childhood friend and a professional painter. Deepshikha conducted the exhibition of her painting in Delhi on earlier occasions as well. Surumi had her first painting sold only a few minutes into the exhibition. Excited by the initial response, she soon called up her ‘Vappachi’ to share the joy. The reply from the other end was a characteristically sedate “well and good”.
No exuberance of colours used
Surumi, who generally sketches nature without an amplitude of colours, once used an eye-catching colour combination while drawing the portrait of her father. The illustration, drawn for Manorama on the occasion of the actor’s birthday, was indeed noteworthy. The only other occasion when she had done a colour portrait was while drawing the cover for a novel.
“I have chosen to keep the colours at the minimum in all my subsequent works,” Surumi says. “None of those who have come to watch the exhibition here know Surumi as the daughter of Mammootty or as the sister of Dulquer Salman. They are meeting, smiling at, and interacting with Surumi only as an artist. The joy that this feeling gives is beyond words,” Surumi said.
Trees form favourite sketches
Trees hold a special place in Surumi’s works. From the sultriness of its leaves and ferocity of lone trees to the enfolding character of its roots that go deeper, her drawings subtly mark all the intricacies of an ecosystem around the trees, including even the minute creatures that lie close to it.
When asked about holding a painting exhibition in Kerala, the reply was just a smile. “No such plans as of now,” she said. To another query on whether Dulquer would come to watch her exhibition, she burst into a laughter, saying “Ayyo, it will be complete mayhem.” Mammootty had specifically asked Surumi to inform him about the opening day’s response to the exhibition. He was so delighted to hear that two paintings had already been sold.
Anywhere and anytime
“I have made pen and paper my core medium, as they offer the convenience of engaging in work anytime and at any place. It helps a lot in sketching the scenes even during a break between travelling. I capture all the scenes that draw my attention in a camera. It takes a lot of time to sketch all the things in a scene, which also includes the minute organisms,” says the artist.
As many as nine pictures drawn by Surumi have been exhibited in the India Art Fest. Some of these pictures took months to complete. Although Surumi does not have any particular reason to explain, trees are her favourite characters. Most of the pictures in the exhibition are the scenes sketched from the estate in Munnar. “Earlier, Vappachi used to bring all the modern tools used for sketching while returning after foreign trips. The special pens used for drawing and quality papers, however, are now available locally too,” Surumi adds.
Drawing without break
Surumi does not approach painting with proper planning. She, however, is firm on sketching the scenes caught in her mind without losing their subtleness. She draws on all days and although not strictly adhered to, Surumi begins to draw each picture by setting a deadline in her mind. This will be later copied to the paper. The India Art Fest, which began on November 2, will conclude on November 5.
Having chosen painting as her elective subject since class 9, Surumi completed her education in London. A full-time artist, she also teaches painting at the LightHouse International in Bengaluru. Surumi is settled in Bengaluru with husband Muhammad Raihan Shahid and the couple has two kids – Adhyan and Efsin.