When football legend Diego Maradona died on November 25, an artist here could not sleep a wink that night. Rajendran Vadakkepadath, who runs R.J. School of Arts here, sat up the whole night praying for his icon.
His restlessness continued throughout the next day until he gave vent to his creativity on a banyan tree leaf.
Using an artistic genre called ‘leaf cutting art,’ Mr. Rajendran etched the face of Maradona on the leaf. If the leaf is held against the sky or against light, Maradona’s smiling face will be visible on it.
Mr. Rajendran has already carved a lofty place for himself in the art of leaf painting. His paintings on dried banana leaves have earned him international fame.
“I chose a single banyan tree leaf (leaf of ‘peraal’) because I wanted to pay homage to him in a manner nobody else has done. The elliptical banyan tree leaf is thick, large, glossy, and will last longer than other leaves,” he said.
Using a special blade, Mr. Rajendran carved Maradona’s face on a leaf that measured 18 cm long and 10 cm wide. He took about four hours to finish the work. He is planning to conserve the art work by framing it. “It will last years,” Mr. Rajendran said. He uses certain methods to season the leaves before working on them.
His banana leaf art works now enjoy enviable positions on walls around the world. Mr. Rajendran treats green banana leaves using milk before working on them. He says they will last centuries if kept under a glass frame.
Mr. Rajendran has begun to try a hand in creating ‘name art’ of celebrities. He has drawn figures of several celebrities using their own names, thousands of times. Film actor Tovino Thomas is among the young celebrities he drew during the lockdown period.