‘Helices,' an exhibition of paintings by Deepti P. Vasu, provides glimpses of a woman's mindscape and world.

‘Helices,' an exhibition of 15 paintings by young Deepti P. Vasu, her first solo in Thiruvananthapuram, provided visuals of the cloistered and, often unexplored, mindscape of a contemporary woman.

Images of ‘helices' present in most of her works, seem to symbolise the mental conditioning that most women inherit. Invariably these are barriers, invisible and mute, but powerful nonetheless to confine a woman within the preconceived notions of how a woman should live and love.

Invitation to ponder

The works in gauche and collage are an invitation to ponder on what it means to be a multi-tasker caught between tradition and modernity, weighed down by expectations (societal, familial and professional) and social conditioning. The big picture reveals itself when one realises that the DNA molecule is formed as two intertwined helices.

“Helices have been a constant in all my works. I have continued with that in this present series as well,” says Deepthi. Has it anything to do with the thought control that many women seem to imbibe from their biological and psychological environments? “Yes, it symbolises many layers of meaning,” she agrees. For instance, ‘Effigy' shows a woman precariously balanced on a helix-like structure while balancing a similar one on her head.

‘Snail Woman' portrays a woman burdened by the helix on her back, perhaps a dig at the way a woman is often hampered in her career by the dual responsibilities of home and work place that she is forced to shoulder alone.

‘Today's Menu,' which depicts a kitchen, complete with a pressure cooker, that too in a shape that vaguely reminds one of an onion, vegetables that strangely look menacing, and the helpless figure of a housewife capture the ‘pressures' in the life of a homemaker. So does the work ‘Indifferent Reading' that has a woman with a newspaper in her hand staring into space.

“It is difficult to paint while running a home and looking after a school-going daughter,” says the artist. “It is almost impossible to work on a canvas without a break. So one adapts and finds solutions. My works in mixed media is one such solution. I paint on the canvas and during a break, I work on the collage and then stick it artfully on the canvas,” she explains.

Three of her works, one untitled, are power-packed narratives of a woman's ambition, outlook and jouney towards her goal(s). While the untitled work shows a confident woman ready to take on the world, ‘Maze of Helices' shows a maze sans people while ‘Figure in Dense Helix' shows a woman falling!

At times, the works have shades of her story as the woman in a couple of paintings bear an uncanny resemblance to the artist. She avers that it is not intentional at all.

Winner of the Arpana Caur Award, instituted by the Kerala Lalitakala Akademi for best work by a female artist in the State Annual Exhibition 2000, Deepti, a graduate of the Government College of Fine Arts, Thiruvananthapuram, has participated in several art camps and group exhibitions. The one at Vylloppily Samskriti Bhavan was her third solo exhibition.

Keywords: painting