What makes one look at a dried flower bunch, a weirdly shaped stone or even random sea shell and see art? This is a question that a budding artist from who collects these objects and creates immersive art works with them can answer. Abdulla PA is a 26-year-old multidisciplinary artist from Thrissur, who is making a mark in the art community in Kerala. He was the recipient of an honourable mention in the State Awards by Kerala Lalithakala Akademi for his oil on metal work ‘Rusting Memories’. Painting with oil on a piece of metal, with this work he referred to the juxtaposition of the medium that is rusting, with the subject being the fading stories and memories of his ageing grandfather.
Working with a varying range of found objects, his sculpture using syringe caps in a dome was also a selected work for this state award. He was also part of Utopian Dystopia — an interdisciplinary art, tech, and design event that drew massive crowds in the city of Kochi, where he integrated into his body of work to create an immersive installation.
But increasingly being inspired by the concepts of biomimicry and biomorphing, Abdulla now collects and curates unique-looking organic objects to analyse them at a closer level and integrate them into his practice of art. Currently, his work is part of ‘Idam’ - an exhibition being hosted at the renowned Durbar Hall Art Gallery in , as part of the Kochi Muziris Biennale. This exhibit curated by artists and curators Jiji Scaria, Radha Gomathy, and PS Jalaja featured over 200 artworks from 34 Malayali artists. Abdulla’s different works at this exhibition have been drawing attention and capturing the minds of visiting art enthusiasts.
In trying to learn more about his foray into art, he said that he was always someone who drew pictures. Being , he understood and learned most things visually, rather than through hearing or reading. After choosing to skip college after his 12th grade, Abdulla ended up migrating to Qatar and working there for close to two years. But even during his time there, he didn’t give up on his love for art. Seeing his artwork, a friend's casual question about whether he has studied fine arts is what prompted him to come back to India and study art. Abdulla who completed his BFA in Fine arts in 2021, now is working towards a Master’s degree in the field of art as well.
While he studied fine art, in seeking to better understand and figure out how different disciplines can be brought together, he found his calling as a artist. His quest to learn more about the medium and its limits is what requires the most work in Abdulla’s opinion. But it is also what drives him. He said, 'Talking to people who are already working with the medium or discipline that I’m planning to work with and learning and understanding the possibilities and limitations of it is truly the real practice of art as a multidisciplinary artist.’
When talking about his creative process, Abdulla says his long-standing habit of collecting things that interest him is usually the beginning point for his recent works. Over months or even years of objects and researching, interacting with, and analysing them, he starts to notice connections among them that eventually culminate as a finished installation. There are even objects that found their place in his artworks that he collected 3-5 years ago, without any purpose in mind, other than a general curiosity about their materiality, that eventually found a place for itself.
In talking about inspiration, Abdulla mentioned how he has shifted focus towards featuring more matter in his work of late - “There was a time when I found inspiration in the works of others and tried to refer to their works to create my own. But post-covid, I found a deeper connection with nature as I was forced to turn to nature to collect objects, as opposed to the junk yards that I used to frequent earlier. I was stuck in the same loop of working with what was familiar, but covid forced me to turn to look further and now that’s where I draw inspiration from."
Living in a coastal town near Thrissur, Abdulla is constantly in touch with the sea and the things that he finds on the . The act of learning more about the shape, texture, colour, form, design, and even the reasoning for the existence of the objects that pique his interest, he reiterates, this itself is the practice of his art.
Having recently finished the work on his studio, Abdulla is hoping to continue his work with deeper research and more learning. With his love for design, he is also hoping to collaborate with more experts from connected fields of work such as engineering, , or even biologists and botanists to create more disruptive installations.
You can follow Abdulla's work via his Instagram.
If you enjoyed reading this article, we suggest you also read: