KOCHI: When you walk into the first hall of the Durbar Hall Art Gallery in Kochi, you are immediately taken aback by the colours. With its dream-like visuals, symbolism and colourful images, the artworks take you on a journey of surreal imaginations. Expecting to continue on this course, you make your way to the adjacent hall only to come face-to-face with the bleak existence of human beings in the present times. As you work your way around the room, you can’t help but notice the different styles and emotions behind the different series of artworks. Your only takeaway in this experience is that look of astonishment when you learn all of these were created by the hands of veteran artist B D Dethan.
The exhibition titled ‘B D Dethan and His Distinct Style’ does just that to viewers. So what is his distinct style? Popularly known as the ‘Detha Shaili’ in the art circle, Dethan’s style is fluid. “My style is that I don’t have a particular style. For me, every day is a new day. You explore a style on a day. The day is over once darkness sets in. The next day is a fresh start to explore another style. That’s how I keep my art alive,” says Dethan.
Resonating this is the six series exhibited at the gallery. The first category ‘Botanical Fantasies’ is a splash of colours. According to New Delhi-based art curator Johny M L, who also curates the exhibition, the artworks “deliberate on the open-eyed visions” so the artist can ‘present a kind of personal utopia.’ “These paintings resulted after I began feeling that my perspective was becoming black and white,” says Dethan.
The second category ‘Kali’ is probably Dethan’s most popular and controversial series of artworks. “In the current times, human beings have lost their qualities which make them unique. They are neither humans nor animals. The works are my rage [kali] in such circumstances,” says Dethan.
While the next category ‘Avastha’ is the other side of the same coin, it depicts the existential aspects of humans without taking away the essence of their being.
The series ‘Faces’ is probably the quintessential category of the exhibition. “One face is not similar to the other. And it does not have a semblance with real faces,” says Dethan. During the inauguration of the exhibition on Friday, literary figure M K Sanu said, “When human beings lose their innate tenderness, human qualities such as love, compassion and kindness are all lost. We subsequently become dry people. These are the faces of such people.”
While ‘Parinamam’ explores ways to build imageries for existence, ‘Poetry’ captures the spirit of Rabindranath Tagore’s Gitanjali. When you walk out of the gallery, all one can wonder is the close semblance Dethan draws to any book. Each new chapter is an emotion or a new style to be explored.