An interview with Konthoujam Maikel Meetei : Award Winning painting artist

Nganthoi Lourembam *

Konthoujam Maikel Meetei  : Award Winning painting artist
Konthoujam Maikel Meetei : Award Winning painting artist

Blast victim, Konthoujam Maikel Meetei with prosthetic legs, paints his canvas based on 'dream of peace.' The 26 years old free-lance painting artist who has won more than 50 awards for his paintings believes that, a peaceful society without any terror or bloodshed can only be brought when everyone starts working towards peace. Maikel shared his personal experience and his forthcoming plan of work with E-pao in an interview.

E-pao: Please share your past experience.
Maikel: It was on the 16th December of 2007 while I was going home in a bus after attending a painting competition a powerful bomb exploded. People remember it as Pourabi blast. My left limb got amputated in the blast. Later on Jan 7 of the following year, the other leg also got amputated. After getting artificial limbs transplanted from RIMS rehabilitation ward, on 1st April, 2008 I came home and continued my art work.

E-pao: After the blast at any point of time did you feel like quitting the artwork?
Maikel: After I lost my limbs I was very hopeless and devastated. It used to bother me for I couldn't walk thinking if I wouldn't be able to paint again. I cried alone at quiet places but I never thought of quitting my art work. I want all my paintings to reflect dream of peace though the incident was truly opposite to peace. Through my painting and artworks I would like to contribute to the society in bringing peace.

E-pao: Who or rather what inspires you to paint?
Maikel: The beautiful sceneries and images of my village and the nature itself inspired me to step into the world of art. During the journey of my life, every incidents or events encouraged me to work hard and inspired me to paint a large number of paintings using my brush and colour, have been painting, still painting and will paint till my last breath.

E-pao: Do you have any other hobbies apart from painting?
Maikel: I listen to song, I write poems and also I make cover designing. I have done book cover designing on 'Cheptharaba Eeshing Pun,' 'Machusingee Machu,' 'Semlasi Eramdam Kallasi Ereipak,' 'Lidice gee Gulap,' 'Phidam Khul,' 'Meetei Pokpi Lamdam,' 'Cheklagi Kaidongpham,' etc. I love everything related to art.

E-pao: How many awards did you receive for your painting?
Maikel: I have received more than 50 awards not only for paintings but also for handicraft and other art works.

A painting by Konthoujam Maikel Meetei  : Award Winning painting artist
A painting by Konthoujam Maikel Meetei : Award Winning painting artist

Sl. NO List of the Awards
1 Gold Medal in the Korasala's Wonder Art World International Children's Art Comp, cum Exhibition 2002, 2004, 2005 and International Best Child Artist Award 2003, Orgd. by :Korasala Art Society, Amalapuram, Hyderabad.
2 Got 25th above position holders in the State Level Children's Art Competition (since 2000 - 06).
3 1st Position, Salora International Ltd. Guwahati (2005).
4 Gold Medal in the All India Children's Art Comp. Orgd. by: Konaseema Chitrakala Parishad, Amalapuram (2006).
5 Gold Medal and National Award in the 13th All India Children's Painting Exhibition 2006, Orgd. by: Vijai lnformations Fine Art Academy, Hyderabad.
6 1st Position (Poster making 2007, Collage & Poster making 2008 and Poster making 2009 in the Inter College Youth Fest. MU).
7 1st Position in State Level Open Painting Comp. 2008, YUV Thoubal (Manipur)
8 Gold Medal (Collage comp.) and Silver Medal (Poster making in the East Zone Inter-varsity Youth Fest. 2008, Ranchi.
9 Gold Medal in the 7th National Art Comp. VARNIKA 2008 Orgd. by: Mannav Sanket Academy, Ujjain (MP).
10 Rajakumari Sanatombi Devi Award 2008, Managing Committee, R.K. Sanatombi Devi Vidyalaya, Imphal & His Excellency, Governor of Manipur.
11 Young Telented Artists Award for Painting 2008-09, NEZCC, Dimapur.
12 3rd Position (Poster making) in the 1 st International Youth Fest. BANI- THANI2009, Ajmir, Rajasthan.
13 Gold Medal (Collage Comp.) XXIV Inter-varsity National Youth Fest. 2009, West Bengal.
14 3rd Position (Spot Photography) in the Zonal Level Inter-Varsity Youth Fest. 2009 (MU)
15 2nd Position in the All India Drawing Competion 2010, Shri Ramakrishna Vijayam, Mylapore, Chennai.
16 Honorable mention 2009, Manipur State Kala Akademi and
17 State Handicrafts Award 2011-12, Directorate of Commerce & Industries, Govt, of Manipur.

E-pao: Among the awards which one do you consider to be the best?
Maikel: Awards cannot bring me peace or happiness but all these awards are important. No award is big or small as I know how hard one struggles to win an award. But as an artist who brought message of peace I would like to reach to international level.

E-pao: In how many exhibitions did you participate?
Maikel: I participated in more than 200 exhibitions which include children's and youth level art competition cum exhibition in state, zonal, national and international level; ASM annual art exhibit 2009 & 11, Manipur State Art Expo 2009 & 10, Kalakshetra, Guwahati 2009 and MSKA annual art exhibit 2009 & 2010.

E-pao: Did you get any chance to attend exhibition outside the country?
Maikel: My collections have been sold to many places in and outside the country. Due to financial constraint I wasn't able to participate in any exhibitions outside the country as there is no facility being provided by the Manipur Government even though I have received various awards for my artwork. I participated in many exhibition hosted in India for worldwide.

E-pao: What's your daily routine? Do you even sleep?
Maikel: Currently I am working as an instructor for three months certificate course in making dolls and toys under Guru Shishya Parampara, sponsored by the development commissioner (Handicrafts), Government of India which starts from 10 am to 4 pm. After the training program I start painting on the canvas for my scholarship.

E-pao: What kind of scholarship program?
Maikel: It is Manipur state Kala Akademi Young scholarship for painting - 2015 and 2016 for which I have to submit 12 paintings on canvas which reflect the conflict situation of Manipur such as crime on women, cyber crime, or the issue of Sharmila for the first year. The other 12 canvas for the year of 2016 my canvas should reflect an eagerness dream of a peaceful society. So far I have completed two paintings.

E-pao: What kind of artworks do you normally work on?
Maikel: My artworks are different in mediums. They are water colour painting on paper, oil painting on canvas, acrylic on canvas and collage art, interior designing and handicraft.

E-pao: What is collage art-form?
Maikel: There is quite a lot of difference before and after the blast. The pleasure that I used to receive through painting the nature, struggling my own and later a hindrance to even go near the nature. So I had to depend on what I have seen earlier, something that happens in front of my eyes and through internet. Hence I started to create the collage art form which is made through collection of various magazines printed in India. I could get more collection through collage art work around fifteen to twenty thousands in a single collage artwork's exhibition.

E-pao: Do you curse the blast?
Maikel: I take the blast as a fortunate event for me because after the blast, because the thirst of art became stronger and made me want to work hard.

E-pao: Did you paint any canvas expressing the tragic incident?
Maikel: On Nov 2014, I painted 'a memorable dark' appealing to all whoever is involved in the terror activity to stop such activities forever because the blast might have vanished but the victims of terror like me suffer endlessly. 'A memorable dark' is a replication of the blast illustrating the night in dark colour, the blast and bloodshed in red and the following day's paper informing about the blast.

A workshop underway at Konthoujam Maikel's residence  : Award Winning painting artist
A workshop underway at Konthoujam Maikel's residence : Award Winning painting artist

E-pao: Which colour do you use the most in your artworks?
Maikel: Most of my artworks reflect the conflict situation of Manipur which is dark colour like red, yellow, black, etc. I really wish all these wars and conflicts shun in the state so that my brush can use the colour of green-white reflecting peace not the dark bloodshed colour.

E-pao: According to you, how do we bring peace in the society?
Maikel: Even though I paint thousand of canvas with the theme of 'peace' if the message is not delivered to the viewers then it is absolute useless. So starting from each one of us, we should work towards peace not just dream of peace. Then together we can make a change to the society and bring peace.

E-pao: You are the inspiration of many young artists including those differently abled persons. What message do you want to convey to them?
Maikel: We can achieve anything if we work hard. Till nineteen years of my age, I only sympathised for those differently abled persons but never felt how hard they struggle in lives. Today, after having both of my legs amputated I can now feel their struggle. But everything happens for a good reason. If I didn't have my legs amputated I may not excel in my art's career like I am today. So any differently abled persons must not feel discouraged for their loss but should do other things in which they can excel. I was totally devastated and hopeless when I lost both of my limbs but regained my spirit because I have got hands and eyes intact to pursue my dream further.

E-pao: Being the youngest artist with so many awards from the state you haven't received much of help from the government, what message do you want to convey to them?
Maikel: An artist like me with so many awards and recognition, who has lost both the limbs is not been encouraged by the government which means there shouldn't be any artists in future. The blast could be taken as a negligence of the government due to their administration failure. Therefore I appeal the government to focus more on differently abled persons. It is quite possible that one day painting could become only for the royal people.

E-pao: Any plan of work in near future?
Maikel: After taking one year off, I am planning to organise my 2nd solo exhibition with the theme of 'peace' on my birthday which is the same date when the World trade centre was destroyed.

E-pao: Any comment on AFSPA and the Iron Lady.
Maikel: My paintings on canvas do reflect AFSPA. When I think of painting about Sharmila, everything jumbles up on my mind including the government and other issues related to Sharmila. As an artist I do wish to repeal AFSPA so that Sharmila can stop her fast. This Act should not only be removed from Manipur but from the soil of earth.

See complete list of achievements by Konthoujam Maikel Meetei

* Nganthoi Lourembam wrote this article for
This article was posted on March 01 , 2015.

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