Bengaluru artist’s tryst with tragedy

Bengaluru artist’s tryst with tragedy

KN Narayana Murthy's work

Air India flight 182, flying from Toronto to Delhi, took off from Montreal in the early hours of June 23, 1985. It was a Boeing 747 named Kanishka.

At 0715 GMT, a bomb went off in the carriage, and the plane crashed into the Atlantic Ocean. A total of 329 people were killed, including 268 Canadian citizens (mostly of Indian descent), 27 British citizens and 24 Indian citizens.

The militants are said to have cited Operation Blue Star and the anti-Sikh riots of 1984 following Indira Gandhi’s assassination as the trigger for their action.

K N Narayana Murthy, a Bengalurean artist, created this image from ink soon after the tragedy.

The blot depicts the face of a militant (from Babbar Kalsa, the organisation suspected to be behind the bombing). A close observation reveals many possible interpretations: an angry militant, an aircraft crashing, and even a mother bending over to protect a child. The work has been presented at several exhibitions and won appreciation. Chandrasekar Sankuratri, a scientific evaluator who lost his wife and children in the tragedy, saw this work and met the artist to tell him how much it meant to him that the tragedy is remembered, and not just by the families that lost loved ones. Narayana Murthy, now 76, creates works of art ( is his pen name) on major incidents that affect society.

“Manani’s pictures are of great interest not just artwise but as well for the psychologist and mystic scholars,” wrote Dr Elmar Gruber from University of Freiburg.