The exhibition at Museum Auditorium is simply titled ‘First Lines.' The artist, B. Jayasree stands in the corner of the vast exhibition hall and looks unassuming. But Jayasree's art speaks for itself. The medium used in all the paintings is oil on canvas. The artist also uses the knife on oil painting technique in several of her paintings.

Faces dominate the exhibition. Arresting expressions make these paintings singularly attractive. Jayasree's paintings also show these faces in a crowd with abstract silhouettes of figures engaged in several (presumably commercial) activities and a general atmosphere of chaos. The faces continue with a wide-eyed young girl and a sleeping maiden. More intricate facial depictions include a face behind the branches of a tree, with a fluorescent moon peeping out. In a painting done almost entirely in blue and indigo shades, a single figure spots both male and female upper bodies, symbolising the unity of being.

Abstract art

Although Jayasree began painting without any formal training in art, she cherished a fierce desire to paint. Prodded by her two sons, her lawyer husband, family and friends, she learnt the basics of painting and began to work seriously. Jayasree participated in a few group shows and then received further training from artist B.D. Dethan. Her exposure to new techniques increased her passion for painting. It also led her away from the world of conventional art such as landscapes and drew her into the realm of abstract art.

And abstract art is indeed a pivotal point of the exhibition. Jayasree has sought to merge abstract art with her fascination for faces. Seemingly abstract paintings full of geometric shapes, on closer inspections, are found to conceal faces complete with myriad expressions. These paintings are predominantly a mix of oranges, blues and greens. Men are scarce in the paintings with women dominating the canvasses. An exception includes the blue outline of a man sitting and gazing at a peacock, signifying expectation and the wait for expectation.

Some of Jayasree's paintings also show us glimpses of a fast-fading era. Her painting of an elderly Malayali couple holds an uncanny resemblance to old-fashioned family portraits.

Painting of a hunched up old woman, squatting and scowling fiercely, also echoes this fading era. Harvests feature as an important theme in Jayasree's paintings, especially in a series of paintings depicting a traditional harvest scene, with two reapers carrying bales of hays. The series shows the same scene reiterated during different times of the day –namely morning, sunset and dusk. In another harvest scene, several young willowy reapers stand together tossing bales of hay. This oil painting looks almost water-colour-like with light almost fluid shades of yellow figuring dominantly.

The exhibition also features wood art wherein the artist has cut, polished and mounted interesting patterns in wood (some from her own garden) including a fascinating piece in guava wood.