“The greatest achievement of an artist is his graceful presence in the minds of those who love art.”
“Unni Krishnan Pulikkal, fine art and nature photographer who lives in Kerala, India, was born in 1969, in a remote Thrissurian village Chettichal. His involvement in art dates back to his childhood days when he started drawing with pencils and charcoals, watercolors 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 contemporary photographers, he shifted his creative arena to photography in early 1998. With a rich background in fine arts, it was quite a spontaneous process for him to capture great imagery with his photographic tools, always adding his creativity to enrich what the external eyes saw.
In his pursuit of 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, India, voted him one among the Top Ten Photographers of the Nation in Oct. 2007. The government of India’s Ministry of Culture awarded him their Senior Fellowship in Creative Photography for the year 2014-15.
He had his first international exhibition in 2007 at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, USA, and later he had two solo and two group exhibitions in Berlin – 2011,2012 & 2013. A retrospective collection of his work was shown in The Industry and Film Museum, Wolfen, Germany, from August to September 2013. He has exhibited in more than two dozen venues in India, including Delhi, Mumbai and Cochin, 1999 – 2013.
Many of his works have been published nationally and internationally. His photographic work has appeared in magazines of great repute, like Better Photography, Times Journal of Photography, Discover India, Naturalli Magazine, Outlook Traveller, Fotowide, Fototrax , Swagat magazine of Air India etc., with many of his images appearing on the front cover. His scientific work on the biology of many butterflies of the Western Ghats has received much acclaim among the scientific community and Bombay Natural History Society’s Journal has published his scientific papers with photographs.
Unni Pulikkal, a member of Royal Photographic Society since 2007, is the founder and President of the Better Art Foundation, India, and the Director and Curator of Photography, PhotoMuse – The Museum of Photography.
The greatest influence on his photographic work was his experience with Ansel Adams’ original black and whites in the Cleveland Museum of Art in 2007. The same year, he got further inspiration from the work of America’s master photographer and platinum print-maker Herbert Ascherman Jr of Cleveland, Ohio, who trained him in the aesthetics and techniques of archival printmaking which he is currently specializing in.
In recent years, we see a lot of transformation in the style of his work. He appears to have shifted to a more contemporary approach to photography as a form of fine art. A respectable body of photographic diptychs dealing with a variety of concepts, with an eye to look deeper into the various aspects of modern life, is an example of his transformation. His experimentation with photo-montages has given a new dimension to his latest body of work and this represents a strong indication of his serious shift from pictorial documentaries. It would be apt to summarize this transformation as a positive evolution from classical pictorialism to the contemporary conceptualism.”
Office, Memberships, Awards
- Founder & President, The Better Art Foundation, India, since 2014
- Director & Curator of Photography, PhotoMuse – The Museum of Photography, since 2014
- Senior Fellow in Creative Photography, Ministry of Culture, Government of India
- Associate Member (ARPS, Associate of Royal Photographic Society), Royal Photographic Society, London, UK, since 2007
- Visiting faculty on History of Photography in KR Narayanan National Institute of Visual Arts and Science
- Winner, ‘Excellence in Photography Award – 2016‘, by All Kerala Photographers’ Association.
- Life Member, Indian Medical Association, since 1995
2018: (UPCOMING) ‘West Meets East’ – A two-person show of platinum-palladium prints in collaboration with Mr.Herbert Ascherman Jr. (USA) at the Loftworks Gallery, Cleveland, USA, as a collateral program during the Cleveland International Triennial of Contemporary Art – 2018 (August 3 – September 1, 2018)
2018: ‘Faces in the Forest’, a projected image exhibition in the tribal hamlet of Anappantham, Kerala, India (June 2, 2018). Documentary photographs from 1999 – 2005 about the Kadar Tribes of the area, in collaboration with Herbert Ascherman, Cleveland, Ohio, USA. Organized by PhotoMuse-The Museum of Photography as part of its ART RETURNS Program.
2017: ‘I Speak for the Trees’, an exhibition of photography at the Heritage Centre, Blackheath, Australia (June 1 – July 30), curated by Len Metcalf. Group show of photographic triptychs by Herbert Ascherman Jr., Unni Pulikkal S., Tim Parkin, Mark Littlejohn and Len Metcalf.
2016: Exhibition of Indian Contemporary Wildlife Photography, Industry & Film Museum, Betterfeld-Wolfen, Germany. September 10 – October 30, 2016
2016: ‘Open Origins – Open Ends – 2016’, International Exhibition of Photography (Group), Durbar Hall Art Centre, Kochi, Kerala, India (July 31-August 5, 2016)
2013: 10th Barnack International Biennial of Photography, a show supported by Leica Camera AG, Solms, organized by the Photographic Society of Germany at Gallery B (= Barnack) in Ruhlsdorf, Germany. The show later moved to Berlin, Wolfen, Potsdam and Schwedt.
2013: GREEN PERCEPTIONS – Exhibition of Photography (Group) at Doha, Qatar, June 2013
2013: ‘THE INDIAN EYE’: An retrospective exhibition of photographs at the INDUSTRY & FILM MUSEUM, WOLFEN, GERMANY, from 13 July 2013 through September 2013.
2012: ’INDIA CLOSE’ – UNNI PULIKKAL RETROSPECTIVE’, FOYER GALLERY at Freizeit Forum, Marzahner Promenade, BERLIN. Organized by the Photographic Society of Germany
2011: 9th Barnack International Biennial of Photography, a show supported by Leica Camera AG, Solms, organized by the Photographic Society of Germany at Gallery B in Ruhlsdorf, Germany.
2011: “TWO IN ONE” – Exhibition of Contemporary Photography, June 18th to July 6th, “Schmetterlingshorst”, Treptow-Kupenick, Berlin, Germany
2009: “Rhapsody in Abstraction” – Solo Exhibition of Fine Art Photographs at Chaithanya Art Gallery Cochin, Kerala, India
2009: Photography Camp & Exhibition at Vazhachal, Kerala, organized by the Butterfly Art Foundation
2008: International Print Exhibition of Photography: The Butterfly Art Foundation India, Thrissur, Kerala.
2007: Exhibition of Butterfly Photographs –THE CLEVELAND MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY, OHIO, US – from June 15th, 2007 to Aug 15th.
2006: BAF International Photo-Art Exhibition-2005, 2006, 2008 Various Group Exhibitions and Salons in India.
2006: State Exhibition of Art, Kerala, India
2006: Salon 2006 Exhibition, Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai, organized by The Photographic Society of India
2005: Global Eco-meet Photographic Exhibition, Thiruvananthapuram
2005: India Circuit Exhibition of Photography by India International Photographic Council – Delhi, Ahmedabad, Bhopal, Jodhpur
2005: BAF International Print Exhibition of Art and Photography, Thrissur, Calicut, Cochin
2005: Solo Exhibition of Photography, Durbar Hall Art Centre, Cochin
2004: Fourth PSJ All India Salon of Photography- Jabalpur
2004: First National Nature and wildlife Exhibition of Photography 2004- Bhubaneswar , India
2004: Humanity Photo Awards Exhibition 2004 organized by China Folklore Photographic Association (CFPA) and UNICEF, Beijing
2004: India Print Circuit -New Delhi, Bhusaval, Jodhpur and Bhurhanpur. IIPC Medal for Travel Photography 2004 (P.N. MEHRA MEMORIAL AWARD)
2004: India International Photographic Council Annual Photo Contest and Exhibition
2003: 14th All India Salon of Photography (KERALA SALON ’03), Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India
2002: Best Work Prize in Internet International Art/ Photo competition 2002
2001: Sixth All India Salon of Photography Exhibition 2001, Certificate of Merit 2001– 13th All India Salon of Photography
2000: Solo exhibition of Photographs and drawings at Lalith Kala Academy Gallery, Kerala, India.
1998: Solo Exhibition of paintings and drawings – Chithram Art Gallery, Cochin, Kerala, India
1998: Artists against Cultural Invasion’ Exhibition (Group) – Kerala Sahithya Academy, Thrissur, Kerala, India
1997: Solo Exhibition of Paintings and Drawings, International Youth Center, New Delhi, India
1997: ’98- State Exhibition of Art 1997-’98 Kerala Lalitha Kala Academy, Kerala, India
1996: All India Poster Exhibition on ‘Man and Nature’ conducted by Kerala Lalitha Kala Academy, Kerala, India
1985 -95: Various Group Exhibitions of drawings and paintings in and outside Kerala, India.
2003: Aug: Kerala Diary: Photo feature about the rural Kerala, Times Journal of Photography
2003: October: Aberrant Journeys and Scattered Images: Photo feature (Travel), Times Journal of Photography.
2004: Portfolio: Times Journal of Photography April 2004
2004: 2008: Various publications in many local Malayalam journals like PHOTOWIDE Magazine and dailies.
2006: Federal Bank Calendar-2006,
2006, 2007: Kerala Feeds Calendar- 2006, 2007
2006: Kerala Forest Research Institute, series of Brochures and books – 2006
2006: BAF India Brochures, websites, and catalogs – 2006
2007: Cover Photo of the Swagath Magazine of Air India, The Monsoon Special issue, July 2007
2007-2008: Numerous Photo-Features on Travel Photography in Fotowide Magazine, Kerala
2007: DAMSELS FROM HEAVEN : A Catalogue of Butterfly Photographs exhibited at The Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Ohio, US.
2007: BETTER PHOTOGRAPHY Magazine featured him among the top ten wildlife photographers of India (Oct.2007)
2008: July. A ten page photo-feature on the Butterflies of Western Ghats in Discover India Magazine
2008: Photo-feature on South Indian Butterflies in Naturalli Magazine, Oct 2008
2008: Photo-story on the Wildlife of Kerala: WILD KERALA – Discover India Magazine July 2008
2008: A feature on his life and work in PhotoTracks Magazine Dec 2008
2009: Photo-story on the Birds of Kerala: Discover India Magazine Jan 2009.
2009: Nature photographs published in many websites including that of Royal Photographic Society
2009: A dozen travel & photo features published in Discover India Magazine, New Delhi.
2009: Cover photo of Outlook Traveller Magazine, July 2009
2009: Rhapsody in Abstraction, Catalogue of Photographs, Unni Pulikal. Foreword: Herbert Ascherman Jr. Essay: Vijayakumar Menon
2010: Catalogue of Photography: 1999 – 2009, unique edition, 381 pages, A4, custom printed by Unni Pulikkal on archival paper.
2010: Portfolio published in Best of World Photography Artists Book by Kennedy Publishing & Best of Artists, VA, USA.
2011: BIRDSCAPES OF THE SOUTH – Photo feature on the birds of Kerala in INDIA PERSPECTIVE MAGAZINE, June 2011 issue. Published by Media Transasia for the MINISTRY OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS, GOV. of INDIA.
2011: ‘TWO in ONE’ – Catalogue of Photography (Monograph of Unni Pulikkal’s photographic diptychs)
2012: Photographs published in MEINE WELT MAGAZINE, GERMANY. Feb 2012 issue. Heft 2.Jahrgang 29. Herbst 2012.
2013: BEAUTY IN FLIGHT: Photo-feature on the Butterflies of Kerala. INDIA PERSPECTIVE MAGAZINE, March-April 2012 issue. Published by Media Transasia for the MINISTRY OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS, GOV. of INDIA.
2013: CHITRAVUM CHINTHAYUM (Pictures and Perceptions) – in Koodu (Nest) Nature Magazine, Kerala, India from May 2013.
2013: Butterflies of Western Ghats of India – Photo-feature in Aranyakam Magazine published by the Department of Forests and Wildlife, Kerala.
2013: Butterflies of Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary, Survey Report, Kerala Forests and Wildlife Department, Jan 2013
2013: Butterflies of Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, Thattekkadu, Survey Report, Kerala Forests and Wildlife Department, Mar 2013
2014: ‘EVOLUTION: Catalogue of Photography 1999-2013′, Limited Edition, 220 pages, 1/4 demi size, all four colour on art paper. Foreword: Herbert Ascherman Jr. Essay: Vijayakumar Menon. A retrospective collection of pictorial and contemporary photography by Unni Pulikkal S..
2015: South Indian Butterflies Field Guide, Edited by K. Gunathilakaraj, T.N.A. Perumal, K.Jayaram, M.Ganesh Kumar, published by Crab Media and Marketing, Bangalore, for BNM Institute of Technology, Bengaluru. Contains more than 100 photographs by Unni Pulikkal. ISBN: 978-93-83698-03-5
Jury & Curator
2008: Jury member of PC WORLD WEB AWARDS -2008 by PC World Magazine.
2005, 2006, 2008: Jury member, BAF International Photographic Exhibitions
2009 & 2010: Jury – Photographic Club of Indian Institute of Management, Warangal, Exhibitions.
2011:Jury member – All Kerala Photographers’ Association’s Annual Exhibition of Photography.
2014: Curator, India- Cultural Plurality, exhibition of photographs by various artists, PhotoMuse – The Museum of Photography
2015: Jury, State Exhibition of Photography, Kerala Lalit Kala Academy. (Fine Arts Academy, Kerala)
2015: One-man Jury, ‘Photo-Now’, Annual Exhibition of contemporary photography by Artists’ Archive of Western Reserve (AAWR), Cleveland, Ohio, USA.
2015: Curator, GRADATION – Mid-career photographs by Herbert Ascherman Jr, exhibition of platinum-palladium prints and Silver Prints , PhotoMuse – The Museum of Photography. From 26th February through March 20, 2015.
2015: Curator, 19th Century Stereographs , April 04 to April 20, PhotoMuse – The Museum of Photography.
2015: Curator, OPEN ORIGINS – OPEN ENDS Edition 1 , exhibition of 30 photographs by 30 photographers. May 4 – May 18, PhotoMuse – The Museum of Photography.
2015: Curator, OPEN ORIGINS – OPEN ENDS Edition 2 , exhibition of 40 photographs by 40 photographers organised by PhotoMuse, November 19 – 22, Kerala Lalit Kala Academy Gallery, Thrissur.
2016: Curator, OPEN ORIGINS – OPEN ENDS Annual Edition, International Exhibtion of Photography (Group), Durbar Hall Art Centre, Kochi, Kerala, India (July 31-August 5, 2016)
2016: Curator, Exhibition of Indian Contemporary Wildlife Photography, Industry & Film Museum, Betterfeld-Wolfen, Germany. September 10 – October 30, 2016
2017: Curator, ‘PATHOS‘, group show of photography, PhotoMuse Rural Gallery, Kodaly, Thrissur, Kerala, India (June 19 – 30)
Workshops, Photo-Walks and Classes
2004-2014: Numerous classes, talks and workshops organized by BAF India
2014: Basic Photography Education Program, PhotoMuse Gallery, December 12.
2014: Photo Documentation and field study on Konkini community of Chettichal, Kerala, 26 December 2014
2014: Basic Photography Education Program, GHSS Chembuchira , December 24.
2015: Quality of Light, PhotoMuse Photography Camp, Chimony, Thrissur. June 27.
2015: The Art of Composition, PhotoMuse Photography Camp, Vazhachal, Thrissur. August 22.
2015: Insect Photography: PhotoMuse Nature Photography Camp, Chinnar, October 2,3,4.
2015: Photo-evaluation and Creative Criticism, PhotoMuse Workshop, Thrissur, August 1.
2015: The Art of Composition, Workshop organised by Photography Malayalam Qatar, Doha, September 11.
2015: The Magic of Composition, PhotoMuse Workshop, Aluva, October 25.
2015: The Art of Composition, Workshop organised by Westford Institute, Cochin, October 29.
2015: Understanding Natural Light & Composition, Workshop organised by FSO Muscat, Oman, November 27 & 28.
2016: Advanced Landscape Photography Workshop, Mentor, Three day camp at Vagamon. October 14, 15,16, 2016, organised by PhotoMuse – The Museum of Photography.
2017: Project Based Photography, talk in Hotel Periyar, Aluva June 4, 2017
2017: Photography Workshop, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited. Cochin. (June 17., along with Praveen P. Mohandas).
Various private collections in India, USA, United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France and Germany.
Royal Photographic Society Collection, London.
- Photo-documentation and study of Butterflies of 11 Wildlife Sanctuaries of Kerala
- Study on the Biology and Life-stage documentation of an extremely rare and endemic butterfly of the Western Ghats of India: THE PALMKING BUTTERFLY Amathusia phidippus. The scientific paper on this study was published in Bombay Natural History Society’s (BNHS) Journal, April 2009.
- A scientific paper on the Biology of Nilgiri Tiger Butterfly, Bombay Natural History Society’s (BNHS) Journal, Dec 2009.