Capturing the likeness and personality of celebrated litterateurs in oils is no mean feat, especially when 38 of them have to be completed in a record time of nine months by one artist. The meticulous attention to detail has resulted in images that appear more as blown-up versions of photographs. This collection of paintings of Vayalar Award winners will be on display during an exhibition at the VJT Hall starting Sunday.
Artist B.D. Dethan was adamant that if he were to replicate his subjects on canvas, he would hunt for photographs that portrayed them as their natural self and not posed. While arranging the portraits, the artist said he still could not believe that he managed to complete all of them despite being not completely at ease with painting portraits. Mr. Dethan is more used to the independence granted by abstract art that does not impose borders and shapes that must be strictly adhered to. Even so, he said, he immensely enjoyed this exercise, especially because he has a personal relationship with some of the writers.
It appears as though portrait paintings are being resurrected to the glory they enjoyed during Raja Ravi Varma’s time, Vayalar Ramavarma Memorial Trust secretary C.V. Thrivikraman said. The trust is organising this programme and it intends to offer a glimpse of how the Vayalar Memorial Complex at Alappuzha will materialise. “The cultural museum is being set up in Vayalar. It is remote and unlikely to get an audience as large as one expected in a city. But by offering this preview of the hall of fame we will have at the complex, we hope more will be prompted to visit the museum once it is completed,” Mr. Thrivikraman said.
The portraits of 36 awardees, plus two larger ones of a young Vayalar and his mother, Ambalika Thampuratti, are on display. Below each portrait is a brass plaque denoting the name of the writer, the year in which they won the award, and for which work. The book that garnered them the award will also be placed below each portrait.
The exhibition will be on till June 6.