On a warm and humid evening, like any other evening, I was in Kochi after a span of two and half years breathing a familiar air in one of my favourite places in Kochi where I had exhibited several times before. This time it was different in ways I couldn’t imagine as I was receiving my first ever State Award – Honourable Mention Award – in a grand ceremony from Sri Saji Cherian, Honourable Minister of Cultural Affairs, Kerala State in the presence of other dignitaries, creatives, family and friends.
After Covid lockdown and everything going under as far as the public and social events was concerned, this was a revival of art. The celebration was two-fold as it was the 50th year of the State Award and Exhibition and 60 years since the inception of Kerala Lalithakala Akademi.
The ceremony moved to a bigger space, unlike the previous years, in the presence of a larger crowd and a grander arrangement. The center stage was impressive in its scale with the white titled-typography covering the backdrop on a grey palette. Minimal décor with clustered flowers in the foreground soothed the eye.
The Chairman, Sri Murali Cheeroth, with a strong vision had put his best foot forward with the Secretary, Sri Balamuralikrishnan, and their steadfast team. Having a different vantage point from the stage was unique and sharing it with esteemed guests par excellence was a cherished and memorable experience.
I found some amazing works in this year’s exhibition as well, obviously. All the Award-winning works were a treat to the senses and so were many others exhibited there. I can only imagine the Jury’s plight! It definitely was an inspiration galore for me.
I received the Honourable Mention Award for “We’re Islands – Self Portraits” (a series of 10 paintings), my mindscapes– a term that I coined to call my paintings that portray the feminine psyche from a strong female presence and perspective. They present distinct, dreamlike, introspective-emotional states and deal with feminine states of being in one with the environment, contemplative and surrealistic.
My works feature dreams, visions, myths, memories, people-their tales, emotions and unbridled feelings to form different layers. I suffer from fibromyalgia and the pain speaks in some layers. In a society consumed by fake realities, we are prone to alienation even among our own. Women being ‘emotional nomads’ we navigate adapting ourselves through various circumstances just to survive, creating parallel realms – a refuge amid ‘an environment.’
Written by Deepa Gopal