KOCHI: These images will haunt you. Imagine being stared upon by a multitude of faces, as their melancholic eyes bore down upon you, confronting you with the dark underbelly of the society. They are intense and raw, encompassing within them a flurry of dark, deep emotions. Enough to rattle your being. These dark, pensive eyes, bereft of any hope, stare at you, in forlorn silence. They are the phantoms inside all of us. Shorn of any embellishments, the charcoal works capture the tortured realities of life. Titled ‘Faces’ the exhibition of charcoal works by noted artist B D Dethan that begins at Suryakanti Art Gallery, Sasthamangalam, on Thursday is a microcosm of the doomed, depressed, and grim lives we see amongst us. It is the conflict the artist has with the society, captured in its purity.
These depressing faces are the ones we all have within us, the artist tells you.
“The faces just emerged. Once it so happened that my hands traced out a face. And soon several others emerged. The images had a natural flow,” the artist says. And he was not done until he created 700 of such work. “That is when I got a sense of peace,” says the artist. His ‘fury’ took another form as he poured it all into the canvas, creating several portraits that astound you with their complexity. It has been two decades since Dethan crafted this series, a work he began soon after finishing the much acclaimed ‘Kali’ series.
‘Faces’ series was crafted while he was working as the art editor of the ‘Sarvavijnanakosham’.
It was in 1998 that he created these portraits. A few of them were exhibited then. Their relevance in the recent times has prompted the artist to hold an exhibition now. “The society has not changed a bit over the years. There is unhappiness around, and in these tortuous times, you cannot create a work of art that brings happiness. This was created when I was deeply afflicted with the societal wrongs. And sadly they still resonate now, making the paintings still relevant. And these will remain relevant for years to come, considering the ever-burgeoning rate of crimes and atrocities,” says Dethan.
“I don’t think I can recreate ‘Faces’,” says the artist. Each face is unique. You would not have seen these faces, but you can identify with the emotion each face exudes. “These ‘faces’ do not evoke happiness and so I was surprised when some bought it when it was exhibited years back,” he added. A total of 125 paintings will be exhibited. The spurt in atrocities by mankind, the war and the crime committed against nature has left the artist in a state of turmoil. He channels his ire and discontent with the society into the canvas. “I once tried writing. But I could not bring it all out and then I realised that I have this medium which can capture in its true essence everything I feel,” he says. You can find in his canvas all his fights and struggles against the wrongs that have permeated into the society.
It has been 52 years since Dethan took up painting and his paintings underwent remarkable changes as his style changed over the years. If his ‘Faces’ series is dark and depressing, his ‘Botanic Fantasy’, ‘Parinamam’ and ‘Nude Complexion’, to name a few, capture themes that are starkly different from each other. “I cannot stick to one style. It bores me. I have to keep experimenting and pursue different forms,” he adds. He is presently working on the ‘Parinamam’ series.The gallery hours are from 11 am to 6 pm daily and will be held at the Suryakanti Art Gallery at Sasthamangalam from April 5 to 25.