KOCHI: Portrayed in brown and orange shades capturing the soul of each chapter, the pictures displayed at JayBees gallery, Kozhikode, are a depiction of the artist’s internalisation of the legendary novel ‘Dharmapuranam’ by O V Vijayan.
Created by architect Jayan Bilathikulam, the pictorial portrayal is the major attraction at the art gallery, the 125-year-old ancestral home of the architect. A plethora of wonders, the gallery at Bilathikulam, which is open 365 days a year, has amazing architectural and interior works, rare collection of museum pieces and artistic works, making it a unique place. This is a reason why people from across the state visit it round the year.
“I could not stop myself from picturing the political satire while reading the novel. This was a time when I was totally distressed over the political situation in the country. And some visitors even spot a similarity towards the then prime ministers I K Gujral or Chandrasekhar in the images of the works,” points out Jayan.
Apart from the scratch paintings on crayons-applied card sheets using blade, the hall in the gallery set in the theme of‘Dharmapuranam’ itself is a visual treat for the literary lovers. Paintings done using water colour on hard boards, including the one that was selected as the cover page of the novel by DC Books, a big chess board and a charka which is around 75 years old have also been presented, giving an essence of the classic work of Vijayan.
Besides, O V Vijayan’s letter to Jayan praising the artistic work is also displayed there. “The charka presented by freedom fighter and Congress leader Azhakil Krishnan Nair is displayed here to symbolise Gandhiji, whose indirect presence is there in the novel, where the novelist refers to him as an old man. Ever since the opening of the gallery in 1997, majority of the visitors here are admirers of Vijayan’s works, even those from outside the state,” says Jayan.
A unique feature which welcomes the visitor to the gallery is the continuous rain at the backyard which provides the image of an inner courtyard in traditional houses. The water fountain that gives the feeling of rain is arranged by recycling water using a tank and PVC pipes having holes kept on roof tiles. Rare collections of objects such as traditional furniture, old wooden boxes used to store money, dress, ornaments, furniture of other states, a 60-year-old radio, a ‘niskara kotta’, a basket in which the dress worn by Muslim ladies for prayers were stored, an old Veena, a two-kg capacity ‘Nazhi’, an old measuring instrument - all more than 70 years old, a 65-year-old telephone, a 100-year-old unique picture of Sree Buddha printed in lithograph, different types of hanging lights and sculptures are also showcased at the gallery. Besides, old photographs of traditional buildings in the city and works highlighting low-cost architectural features have been put up here.
“I started collecting things and got into architecture because of my passion. I don’t charge any fee from those who come to enjoy it,” says Jayan. He has another art gallery in Vengalam, built using the materials collected when the Kallayi railway station was dismantled.