KOCHI: Walking into the Moothon Art Show currently under way at Cafe Papaya, one notices multiple visual renditions of androgyny alluding the transgressive theme of the recently-released eponymous film. Striking among these are the ones that greet you at the entrance, two large monochrome mixed-media prints by brand designer Latheesh Lakshman. Bold strokes and irregular shapes take the form of quasi humans brazen in their display of male and female parts or the lack thereof.
Having worked with some of the biggest names in the advertising industry, Latheesh’s artistic ethos has evolved into an amalgamation of design and illustration in an almost similar non-confirmative way his latest work exudes. “Moothon is a completely new take from all the films we have seen so far in the Malayalam film industry.
After watching it, I was struck by this word, ‘pennano’ which translates to ‘are you a female?’. The word, when uttered, represents a confused state where a person is unable to determine the gender of the other person. This is the attitude of society towards anyone who doesn’t fit the binary. I think of society as transgender because it lacks a singular character. This was the ideological genesis for the work I made for the exhibit,” says Latheesh who heads Untitled, a branding venture based in Kochi, as its creative director.
Like all great stories, Latheesh’s journey is also inspiring. As a kid, he remembers doodling on the ground using his finger which, over the years, turned into a pre-occupation with sketching. “I took part in many drawing competitions as a kid. I would bunk classes and go to my art teacher to paint. It was him who got me enrolled into the College of Fine Arts, Trivandrum,” says Latheesh. Soon after his graduation, he went to Bengaluru to work with Ogilvy Advertising.
“Back then, every pass-out would migrate to the nearest metro. I did the same. After working in Ogilvy for four years I moved to the UK and worked with Ikea Design and Wieden+Kennedy. These experiences moulded me as a designer as I had the opportunity to work with some prominent people,” adds Latheesh who played a significant role in branding the first edition of Kochi-Muziris Biennale.
“The experience of working for the biennale made me understand how to integrate design and art. It contributed hugely to my aesthetic. Going forward, I would like to explore my creative passions. This would require learning a new language sensibility but I am sincere about investing more time into it,” says Latheesh.