An oft-repeated sentence found in letters by famous authors addressed to the editors of Deshabhimani went like this: “The dimensions explored by your artist in our characters are surprising and worth studying”. These words of appreciation underscore his 18-year-long illustrations of characters from short stories and novels on to Indian ink for the Deshabhimani weekly. Renowned artist Namboothiri himself has lauded Chandrashekharam to be among the finest illustrators working in Malayalam today. Chandrashekharan’s sketches for the characters of Bimal Mithra and Vathsala second his observation.
Previously a drawing teacher, his entry into Deshabhimani came out of the blue. With great affection for his characters, he sojourned alongside Deshabhimani thereafter. When we look at his early work side by side with that of his contemporary work, it becomes evident that the illustrations of the early phase was largely experimental. Today he breathes life into his characters from the epicenter of the story or novel. The ability to pin point the epicenter of events marks him truly exceptional. All strokes of this illustrator exemplify maturity beyond his years.
One can only attribute this virtue to a certain attitude that relies on continuous learning. The intense attention defining his movement from one character to the other is worth studying. Therefore, unlike many of his contemporaries, the ‘art’ of sketching all men and women alike escapes Chandrashekharan. Another important difference lies in the time that he dedicates for studying his characters. No matter how busy he is, he is able to decode the characters within seconds and transfer them on to Indian ink. And interestingly, it never seems to diminish the writer’s vision. Comparisons are made between Namboothiri and Chandrashekharan. The criteria could be ‘perfection’ associated with both of their craft. However, it is difficult to unequivocally assert that Namboothiri’s bearing on Chandrashekharan, simple reason being the apparent originality preserved in Chandrashekharan’s art. His rise in a span of just seventeen years proves that if he had been a full-time artist, he would have scaled far greater heights by now!
Madhyamam Annual, 1988