Some say talent is innate. Some say that it is acquired. And yet others say it’s both. Though we don’t want to take sides, in the case of Edmund Thomas Clint, it has to be the former; there’s no other way to explain how this child prodigy could create works of art the way he did.
Born in 1976 to Mullaparambil Thomas Joseph and Chinnamma Joseph in Kochi, Clint was named after Clint Eastwood as his father was a huge fan of cowboy films. Before he turned one, Clint drew a perfect circle on their living room floor with a piece of chalk. This was a sign of great things to come.
Using crayons that his father bought him, Clint started drawing on the walls of his house. And soon, the walls were filled with Clint’s artwork. While his parents encouraged him, it was Joseph’s friend G Mohanan, who was an artist himself, who realised Clint’s potential. Though Clint was started off with basic line drawings, Mohanan noticed that his sketches had precision that would’ve required years to master. On being asked to mentor Clint, Mohanan refused as he felt he was unqualified to mentor someone as gifted as Clint.
With support from his parents and guidance from Mohanan, Clint went on to progress into various mediums of painting. It seems there were days when he would do over 100 paintings!
But the little maestro had a near tryst with death shortly after he turned 3. He was diagnosed with a kidney disease; his limbs swelled up and his body ballooned. All the doctors that Thomas and Chinnamma consulted said that there was no hope. Despite his sickness, Clint kept creating art – going on to address some mature themes such as death, love, and solitude. Finally, they consulted Dr Joseph Abraham, a reputed homoeopathic doctor, and he was able to bring Clint back to good health.
Clint went on to join school and astonished everyone he met with his remarkable talent. He gained state-wide fame when he bagged the first prize in an under 18 painting competition when he was 5 years old!
Unperturbed by fame and awards, Clint went on to create some of his best works during this time.
However, on Vishu of 1983, a month before his 7th birthday, Clint breathed his last. The kidney disorder found its way back and pushed Clint into a coma that he never woke up from.
In a life that spanned just 6 years and 11 months, Clint had created over 25000 works of art.
Clint left an enduring memory in the minds of Malayalis. After his untimely death, a road in Perumanoor (Kochi) was named after him. Sebastian Pallithode wrote his biography, Clint – Nirangalude Rajakumaran (Clint – The Prince of Colours), and two movies based on Clint’s life have been released so far – Anandabhairavi (2007) and Clint (2017). The Department of Tourism of Government of Kerala holds the International Children’s Online Painting Competition in his honour.