THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: “Dethan believes in life’s ability to renew itself. ‘Parinamam’ (Transformation) has been an obsession with Dethan ever since he took his creative career quite seriously,” writes art critic M L Johny, in the book ‘B D Dethan and his Distinct Style. The book, which chronicles the creative career of noted artist B D Dethan, has been brought out by Suryakanthi Art Gallery, Vazhuthacaud. Illustrated with milestone works in the artist’s oeuvre, the book provides a multi-dimensional appreciation of Dethan’s style which has continuously defied conventional mores of art while seeking to renew itself with each series.
The text, written in simple language, revisits in detail the Dethan repertoire reflective of contemporary social settings. A 1971 collage which the artist did just after graduating from the College for Fine Arts, Thiruvananthapuram (then School of Arts), is thus the take off point of the retrospection. The critic unravels the social context that inspired the work which was a bold deviation from the Ravi Varma school that was in vogue. He writes, “while taking a closer look at the dark images one comes to understand the wounds and scars that Dethan as a young boy had suffered during his formative years; the immediate decades after the achievement of Indian independence.... And like any other sensitive artist, Dethan too had hoped against hope to see a different world where people lived in harmony....”.
The book contains independent chapters on landmark works such as the ‘Nude Complexion’ series the ‘Kali’ series and the more recent ‘Parinamam’ series. As works that define points of reassessment in the artists’s career, they are analysed in depth by the critic.
The nude paintings, which portray in brilliant play of light and shadow, the aesthetics of the female body, have been acclaimed as iconoclastic and have been exhibited at major galleries all over the country.
‘Kali’ series had also garnered much attention for its scathing social commentary. The pen and ink drawings were serialised in Kalakaumudi magazine in early 1990s along with notes penned by the likes of author Ayyappa Panicker and filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan.
A poem, written by Dethan as a foreword to Kali, and translated into English by novelist Malayattoor Ramakrishnan, appears at the beginning of the book. ‘...with my palette knife/i stab at my heart/i agonise...”, reads the verse. The paintings featured in the book and the text that accompanies it are in vindication of the agony expressed by the artist in the lines.
The book was released at the Museum Auditorium by Social Welfare Minister M K Muneer on Thursday. The paintings mentioned in the book will be on display at the Museum auditorium till April 18.