WIth supportive parents, Kedah artist with Asperger’s syndrome thrives in his artwork and exhibitions

·3-min read
Come to the Starling Mall and get some of the latest acrylic and pyrography artwork created by Kirthanraw (in red). ― Pictures courtesy of Subramaniam Bandiloo
Come to the Starling Mall and get some of the latest acrylic and pyrography artwork created by Kirthanraw (in red). ― Pictures courtesy of Subramaniam Bandiloo

PETALING JAYA, Jan 28 ― Artist Kirthanraw Subramanian, who was born with Asperger's syndrome, has an innate artistic talent.

This talent has enabled the 28-year-old from Kedah to go places to promote his art exhibitions.

One of it was being invited by the Raja Puan Muda of Perlis Tuanku Lailatul Shahreen Akashah Khalil to do an art exhibition in Universiti Malaysia Perlis in 2016.

In 2018, Universiti Sains Malaysia’s museum and art gallery director heard about the young artist online and visited his home in Kedah’s Sungai Petani to see his mini art gallery.

Impressed by his artworks, the young artist was given another chance to exhibit his oil painting artworks where the exhibition focused on autistic youth and their talents.

Some of the cafes that he has showcased his art exhibition featuring include Island Gallery Penang, Sungai Petani’s Blackwood Cafe where Kirthanraw featured his abstract art oil paintings.

His passion for painting and sketching started when he was five years old and was supported by his parents, especially his father Subramanian Bandiloo.

Asperger’s Syndrome is a developmental disorder where people with the syndrome have a difficult time socially relating to others while their behaviour and thinking patterns can be rigid and repetitive.

Subramanian told Malay Mail that he noticed that Kirthanraw, youngest of three children, had an innate talent for sketching his own version of cartoon characters and decided to send him to art classes.

“Kirthanraw would watch the Power Rangers show and then would sketch his own version of the superheroes.

“My wife and I then sent him for proper art classes and he learned how to paint using the correct methods at the age of 15.

“As a father, I too, had to be resourceful and even bought for him wood carving equipment so that he can learn how to produce wood carving designs.

“We also designed a small gallery in the house so that he can put up his paintings - oil painting, acrylic painting on the walls so that he can be proud of his artwork.”

Subramanian, a retired pharmacy assistant never imagined that he would be his son’s ‘art-manager’ as he spends most of his retirement helping to sell his son’s artworks and going for art exhibitions.

He has two other elder daughters ― both of whom are a doctor and a physiotherapist.

“It’s really a journey being with my son and to constantly learn things for him so that he is able to shine in doing what he loves.

“Because of his Asperger’s syndrome, he prefers being alone and not talking to anyone but my wife and I would encourage him to head to the malls, talk to people so that he knows what social interaction is all about.

“Since his art has been a giant leap for him, I am now his ‘ambassador’ ― where I attend bazaars and exhibitions to sell his art and it’s a form of therapy and stress-reliever for my son.”

Asked how these past two years have been for Kirthanraw, his father said that whenever the movement control order (MCO) and travel restrictions were relaxed, he would travel from Sungai Petani to Klang Valley to promote his son’s artworks.

“Even during the MCO, there were people who bought his artwork, especially those who were aware of autistic children and their talents.

“And I want to make sure that my son continues to do his artwork so that he can be financially independent and can support himself,” he said.

Kirthanraw’s latest artworks will be in Petaling Jaya's Starling Mall till January 30 featuring his acrylic paintings, pyrography art and wood carving designs.

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