A short Bio-data of Unni Pulikkal
"Unni Krishnan Pulikkal, a fine art and nature photographer who lives in Kerala, India, was born in 1969, in a remote Thrissurian village Chettichal. He was trained in modern medicine, which he still practices part-time in his rural clinic at Codali. His involvement in art dates back to his childhood days when he started drawing with pencils and charcoals, water colours and then moved on to acrylics and oils in his college days, with many certificates of merits and awards to his credit. Later, under the influence of images by great photographers like Ansel Adams, he shifted his creative showground to photography in early 1998. With a rich background in fine arts, it was quite a spontaneous process for him to capture imagery with his photographic tools, always adding his creative thoughts to enrich what the external eyes visualized.
In his pursuit for quality image-making, he came across much recognition as a natural outcome of his perseverance. The Royal Photographic Society, London, awarded him their prestigious title ARPS (Associate of Royal Photographic Society) in 2008; the Better Photography Magazine of India voted him one among the Top Ten Photographers of the Nation in Oct.2007; the Limca Book of Records selected him for a record in Nature category as “the first Indian to exhibit photographs in the prestigious Cleveland Museum of Natural Hisoty, Cleveland, Ohio, USA, in 2007”. Many of his work have been published nationally and internationally. His photographic work has appeared in magazines of great repute like Better Photography, Times Journal of Photoraphy, Discover India, Naturalli Magazine, Outlook Traveller, Fotowide, Fototrax , Swagat magazine of Air India etc., with many of his images appearing on the front cover. He has also exhibited his work in many parts of India during the last ten years.
Unni Pulikkal, a member of National Geographic Society, is the founder director of the Butterfly Art Foundation, India, (www.bafindia.org) a visual arts organization of Kerala.
The greatest influence on his photographic work was his experience with Ansal Adams’ original black and whites in the Cleveland Museum of Art in 2007. The same year, he got further inspiration from the work of Cleveland’s master photographer and platinum print-maker Herbert Ascherman Jr, who trained him in the aesthetics and techniques of archival print making."
Why does one make images?
A seemingly simple, yet deceptive query.
How does one visualize an image?
A complex answer evolves from a seemingly innocent question.
The answer to these question lie in the understanding that art, like nature, is simple in its appearance…yet the complexities arise for those who actively choose to explore beneath the surface. I make photographic images because it is my chosen process of expressing my creativity. I enjoy communicating my thoughts, feelings, emotions, experiences and intellectual concepts through the images captured by my camera.
What is the essential element in producing an image of Quality? Previsualization. Previsualization means the ability of the photographer to see the subject in front of him as a carefully captured and elegantly printed image…BEFORE he raises the camera to his eye. By visualizing the final image, the photographer utilizes the process whereby everything that occurs to him either knowingly from what he has learned through his senses or unknowingly from what he derives from intuition and imagination, becomes an important element in his final photograph. In purely creative terms, there must be a synchronization of the photographers thought and process through his image which then allows a rapport to develop between the photograph and the viewer.
Photography is the ultimate communicative art. Communicating my vision and a clear message of cultural utilitarianism through my images is how I attempt to connect with the viewer. I hope to impress upon him the validity of my image, my imagine making ability and the emotion or message I wish to convey. To understand art, anyone’s art, the viewer also has the responsibility of looking at the artwork with an intelligent and contemplative eye. The worst comment he can make is ‘nice photo’ because that shows a lack of emotional or intellectual response to the image. Strong emotion; This image moves me! or, I don’t care for the feeling I get from this image! are proof that the art has a created a visceral response in the viewer, and that he has taken something from the experience I have created.
I create pictures of scenes that I think are worth remembering, and at the same time present a vision of truth to the viewer. Each photograph is either an invitation to view a personal experience or a stimulus to make the viewer realize a self apparent truth. A photograph is memory or experience which has been immortalized, with an agile truth throbbing beneath it. A successful photograph is created with imagination, emotion and bears the stamp of the hand of its creator. Time is the unique characteristic of the image. It happens once then is instantly part of the past, as is the moment at which the viewer responds.
Over time, I have traveled through various genres of photography – wildlife, portraiture, landscapes, abstraction etc. For years my nature photography specialized in butterflies and landscapes. I worked with the intention of combining documentary nature photography with pictorial elegance. AS my career progressed, I made photographs of the native peoples and aborigines of my country, with the sole intention of documenting their life. I was unsure of their anthropological significance until I realized to my surprise that many of the pictures were their first portraits. I found that as I grew, these documentary images would hold ‘more truth’ later than they did when they were taken. As the Theory of Relativity puts it, the truth of any situation is determined by one’s position in time and space.
As my style of image making evolved, so did my interest in various subject matters. My work with abstract photographs is basically reductionist in nature, owing to the fact that I extracted my work from the subject matter in front of me, reducing the real to the level of the previously unseen. I would hope that my abstractions invite the viewer to explore photography at a level beyond that which originally exists in Nature. I want my abstractions defined both by the image and by the viewer’s visualization.
Apart from Marcel Duchamp’s ‘Retinal Art’, my attempt is to create something supra-retinal. This desire has been the catalyst my artistic evolution. As a contradiction to the common concept that a photograph does not covey more than what one ‘sees’ with their eyes, I seek to transcend the common vocabulary of envisioning images. This thought has resulted in my current vision of photomontage, wherein two or more images are posed next to each other to create a unity of thought, message and visual content. I can now express both subtle and complex moods and emotions through the elaborate narrative of multiple images. These pictures are carefully mated to form examples of an aesthetic experience which attempts to explain an understanding of one universal identity.
We create as part of the ever progressing continuum of forward movement. We learn as we go, we learn as we grow. I bring each of life’s experiences into every photograph I take. I am the picture, and the picture is me.
Yesterday my Art and I may have been considered good. Hopefully tomorrow my Art and I will certainly be better.