Daniela Ruseva’s paintings are displayed at La Gallery 360. The exhibition has several Kerala-inspired frames

Daniela Ruseva has always been fascinated by India. A land of myths and fantasies, the internet opened up the “fascinating country that is India” to her. An ardent fan of anything “Indian”, she would watch Indian movies, mostly Bollywood ones as they had subtitles.

“I also watched a Malayalam one, Adaminte Makan Abu, which I found interesting,” she says.

A yoga practitioner and teacher in Bulgaria, Daniela decided to pursue her passion for yoga in Kerala. After months of searching on the internet, she found a teacher called Rajasekharan in Kowdiar. After two years of correspondence and planning, Daniela arrived in the city two months ago to polish her knowledge of yoga.

Daniela, who is better known as Dhana is also a passionate artist. She has held an exhibition with her brother, Dimitar in Bulgaria. And while she has changed jobs several times, she is now fully into yoga and art. In love with the rich greenery and vibrant colours of the flowers in the city, Dhana decided to pick her paint brush and infuse the scenes that flooded her senses on canvas. The result – an exhibition of Dhana’s pastel paintings at La Gallery 360, Nanthancode.

However, the exhibition would not have been possible without the support of friends, she says. “I met Jobin through the internet. He lives in the city and helped me organise the event.”

Her collection of paintings titled ‘Angel Flowers’ she says are a tribute to Kerala. The frames that come in warm colours like “orange, purple and pink” have floral themes. “Kerala is magical to me and I have tried to carry that fantasy-like feel in my works,” says Dhana. The artist who paints whilst listening to music says she tuned in to mantras and the music from the sitar while painting those frames.

A series of paintings titled ‘To be near you’ was inspired by the sunset at Kovalam. If one has the sun kissing the sea, another has fishermen setting for home on their boat by the setting sun, while the last in the series has a lone tree juxtaposed against the sun. Tulip is Dhana’s favourite flower and she has portrayed the flower in a couple of her frames. If ‘Blowing’ has the tulip fighting the blowing wind, a series of paintings titled ‘The Moving Spirit’ has the flower seemingly about to take flight. The image of ‘Bulgarian Shevita’, which has a red blossoming flower with leaves surrounding it, is a popular traditional Bulgarian motif that is used on outfits, says Dhana.

‘Mandala’ a multi-coloured flower is arresting with its use of bold and subtle colours that blend harmoniously.

Two paintings which stand out are perhaps ‘Harmony’ and ‘The tree of wishes’. While the former has a green flowering wreath dotted by colourful butterflies, the latter reminds one of the magical tree in the children’s fairy tale ‘The 12 Dancing Princesses’ as the branches gleam with silver and gold.

The artist who leaves for Dimitrovgrad, her home town in Bulgaria next week is sad because she says she feels at home in Kerala. Dhana who is currently fascinated with the Kerala murals hopes to come back and study them and perhaps conduct another exhibition based on them soon.

Dhana’s exhibition of paintings is on until March 16.

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