R. Udayakumar - battles life with willpower!!

Mr. R. Udayakumar is entirely paralyzed except the thumb and the index finger of right hand. But he produced wonders with two blessed fingers and mastered and evolved his own style of abstract painting using acrylic inspired by the greats, Picasso and Rembrandt Harmenszoon.

His life is an inspirational journey - of Art... And fight against Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). Udayakumar has thrived on the fringes of art. His paintings are inspired by his imagination and dreams. He developed his artistic ideas and concept by watching art/ culture on television. He lives challenging life and ensuring he didn’t succumb to the ailment which made his whole body static.

Early Childhood and Education:

He was born a normal child. At tender 10 month, he was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) - an ailment that affects the neurons of spinal cord and brain stem. It slowly arrested his whole bodily movement. The disease has taken control of his body by the time he turned seven. His spine has curved and purely dependent, a condition that has progressed over the years. However he completed his secondary schooling from St. John's School, Villivakkam.

His parents and teachers discovered his inclination towards painting / art when he was in 2nd grade. He discontinued his studies after 10th due to ailment and since then, painting has been his only passion & goal.

Exhibition:

At the age of seven, he participated in an exhibition organized by Victoria Technical Institute in 1982. Since then, he has conducted several solo exhibitions at Lalit Kala Academy, Amethyst, Gallery Sri Parvati and Ambassador Pallava. Noted art & film celebrity Mr. Sivakumar was in all praise for his commitment and dedication towards art. Lakshmi Venkatraman's help and backing encouraged him to paint more.

The Artist & his Commitment towards Art:

Painting is his oxygen and a healer for him - and once he starts a portrait he makes sure he completes his canvas at one stretch. His ability to convey abstract ideas in lines and shades brought him laurels. He is more passionate about painting Horses. He visualizes Horse as a symbol of Power and Energy. "I see the world through my paintings. It's the eye which helps me visualize life", he said in an interview to a national daily. A prodigious output of acrylic paintings are his masterstroke. He describes his paintings and exhibitions as untitled series. The paintings of Jallikattu, night view of Mylapore temple, sea waves in the shape of Nagalinga poo were real master strokes and received extra ordinary glories and accolade from the artist fraternity.

Till date he has painted 850 plus portraits and each one the best of its kind!

The Ambassador of Social Cause:

Udayakumar's social conscience and responsibility is evident in his works. He has touched upon the subjects of Bhopal-Union carbide tragedy. He says, "I wanted to send out a message to the viewers through my works and express my solidarity to Bhopal tragedy victims who are running from pillar to post for justice". There is a story of pain behind each painting but for him art is a way of making one's life meaningful, especially for a person living with disability.

He has been a real ambassador for the cause of disability and says "People with disability need to be recognized by their talent and not their disability". He is a role model for others and instills hope, courage and confidence and gives a message "Get recognized by your work and not by your disability. Your muscles would be weak but keep your mind firm". Given a chance, he would like to advocate for the rights of the people living with disability and ensure the government schemes for disabled persons are implemented appropriately to their benefit.

Inspirations:

His fight and will to overthrow Muscular Dystrophy/Spinal Muscular Dystrophy were inspired by the theoretical physicist and cosmologist Mr. Stephan Hawking who had the similar syndrome. Udayakumar says- "Stephan Hawking became a world renowned writer, physicist and a scientist despite his condition and even referred to a book which he has authored- "the universe in a nutshell".

Mr. Udayakumar was a visiting faculty for occupational therapy at SRM University, Ramapuram, Chennai for two years and he moved in a battery powered wheel chair, his father by his side.

Challenges:

Though he made his life meaningful, it was full of challenges. He contracted Pneumonia twice which was life threatening for his condition and he survived solely of his will power and attitude towards life. But his physical disability and sufferings deteriorated from worse to worst. His speech became increasingly slurred. He has to survive on liquid foods, even presence of a small grain would cause choke which leads to wheezing.

His other keen interest:

His other interested subjects include Aviation / Aeronautic Engineering and Politics. The current affairs and his knowledge on various subjects take everyone by surprise. In literature, "Paradise Lost" the epic poem by John Milton based on the biblical story of Adam and Eve and Daffodils by William Wordsworth are his famous choice and in future he dream to portray Daffodils in his own imagination.

His attitude towards life is commendable and his inspiring journey defeating all odds continues - with art as a solace and the moral support of his parents and sister.

Some of his works
Refer e-Catalogue

Chinthamellam Ennaku Oviyamey {CEO} an Experience

About me:
As a creative person I was motivated by the desire to achieve, excel & not by the desire to overcome others. I do want to utilize the little talent whatever almighty put in me. I was supported by my parents all those years, since last exhibition in parvathy gallery Laxmi Venkatraman has a source of support through mobile phone.

Experience:
At the end of june I mailed Laxmi Venkatraman, mam informed me of Varakur Srinivasan Ramana of Heartbeat foundation, his colleagues prasanth & subha akka collected it from me. One fine afternoon ramana sir came to my home. It was a pleasant meeting. He explained the goals of Heartbeat Foundation, that of an agile mind in a caged body. It reminds me of a painting titled "my dreams can't fly" done by me. Soon I realized it was destiny. Heartbeat Foundation did framing & promoting me. Laxmi Venkatraman mam did gave 5 days of gallery for free, Apollo Hospitals with transportation & printing of cards raman saravanan is of immense support, leaflets. Ramana coined the title chinthamellam ennakku oviyamey even before meeting me. There are many unseen angels who promoted the event from behind the scenes as well. Orginally planned on 24 october but rain played spoilsport, things happened for good as said by ramana, the D-day came on november 21. Apollo pitched in with ambulance they cared, carried me safely to gallery twice. With chief guests Senior artists sri. Sivakumar, Manian Selvan, Director Vasanth they praised paintings. The show got a colorful start with paintings occupiying all walls and laxchu rajagopal of creative zone made 8 min documentary gave insight into how I paint and my painting position. Later Prince Marthanda Varma of Trivancore & Actor Napoleon made it to gallery & praised my art works. The event exposed me to a range of senior artists, art lovers, art buyers, curious visitors who read about me in media were there, budding artists & children. Lakxmi Venkatraman has one more surprise in store for me by extending till 30 november seeing gud response.

Expectations:
I as an artist been promoted by heartbeat foundation & Laxmi Venkatraman, I do appreciate more chennaities to visit gallery & encourage us. I wish to exhibit my work outside chennai it was my wish. Love to meet unknown angels at an appropriate time & thank them.

Future Plans:
I paint on themes generally that I see & come across in print & electronic media. Like to work on freestyle work will try to revive my line drawing, pointillism in different genres.

Gaps:
It does not matter how slowly I go as long as I don't stop. Since last exhibition nearly 5 years back in sri parvathy gallery in 2010 had opportunity to exhibit on one side of the wall 5 years down the lane had numerous physical, health problem & restricted elbow movement. I overcome odds, obstacles in personal levels to this point, over these years parents had been my support & Laxmi mam encouragement kept me going.

Aspirations:
"THE WILL TO WIN, THE DESIRE TO SUCCEED, THE URGE TO REACH MY FULL FULL POTENTIAL" these are the keys to personal excellence & success. I will use this art event CEO & build my art career with solid backing from Laxmi mam & Ramana of Heartbeat Foundation.