- Padma Jayaraj
Photos courtesy the artist
December 20, 2017
Rituvarna is a visual representation of the pageant of seasons in the Indian subcontinent, inspired by Kalidasa's Ritusamhara. The painter N.B. Lathadevi has chosen a unique style of ‘dots and waves', perhaps the best format, to narrate the tale of moving Time, through its elliptical path around the globe. Dots creep into a white line forming the trajectory of a wavy pattern that rejuvenates love and life as Kamadeva's design. The technique of dots in painting goes back to tribal arts that trace the history of painting in one sense. Acrylic on canvass, the white line of dots unite all the 36 canvasses that represent 6 seasons, as if it is the soul and spirit of Nature. Nature is represented in characteristic colors, a world of trees and animals, in wavy motions. Dots forming lines paint Nature to reveal the element in the colors and motion of each season. Each season has 6 segments, each slice representing 10 days. Thus the entire gamut of paintings is a wide canvass of 360 days.
Vishu invariably on April 15th (The solar calendar of Kerala) is the New Year for Keralites. It points to Greeshmam with the sun at its zenith. The artist paints Greeshmam in flaming yellows: the sun ablaze, the plants, flaming tongues of leaping and quivering heat waves. The poet's pen picture is recast in a visual. How natural enemies unite seeking shelter under scorching sun. Life shields life; the snake seeks cover under the plumage of peacock. Humans find comfort within home. "Oh dear, what if the summer is scorching, fragrant lotuses are overlaid on cool waters; comfortable is the fresh water in bathing pools...." sings the lover in Ritusamhara.
Humans are absent in the canvass. The pervading white line is the spirit of love that unites each piece. The green that indicates the next season Varsha starts from the foliage around the habitat. Green dominates Varsha, the Sun is white now. The curves are different here: they droop down, falling raindrops from melting clouds, flowing streams with gleaming foam. Lightning zigzags, peacocks dance, longing fills the hearts of the young. Animated life is in celebration. Nature revives decked in green. Varsha, the season of creation is painted with its soul hidden within magical designs of triangle upon triangle enveloped in streaming dotted lines of white. The white color is the cue to start the next ritu, Sarat.
Silvery white amid blue is the panorama of a night: star sparkled, dew drenched, moonlit, poetry in visuals. The lotus with its reflection and with triangles up and down, gives a philosophic dimension characteristic of Indian art. Towards the end of Sarat, the color changes into blue and grey softened by white. Blue merges into violet and Sarat slowly fades into Hemanta, the season of frosts. Hemanta rises from plentiful dewdrops with a sudden burst of young shoots of plants. The lodhra flowers are in bloom. The last lap, paints a blazing demeanor couched in red infused with white. The paddy is ripe; bountiful harvests of golden grain radiate joy amidst lakes shimmering in chill waters.
Sisira, dominating white is suffused in orange indicating the emergence of the next season .The flamingo stalks among the cranes. A prelude to Vasanta red color gains intensity to evoke the mood of festivals in India. The brief spell of sharp cold weather ends in Spring. Vasanta is the season of colors, breeze, music and love. The spirit of Vasanta pours down in glorious splendor. Soft breeze tickle leaves and flowers into sparkling colors. The mystery of love vibrates the air, kindle, and blaze. The swans lift their neck from among the lotus to savor its enchantment, as if to sing, "Eternity is now ….that's how my love is for you…"
Young students flocked from schools to view the just concluded one week show in Kerala Lalita Kala Akademi, for the artist is their teacher who has a studio to train many who love art. A noted artist in Thrissur, Kerala's cultural capital, she has many activities and achievements to her credit. She has won many awards and participated in solo and group shows. N.B. Lathadevi is currently pursuing her PhD in Visual Arts at Kerala Kalamandalam.
Padma Jayaraj is a freelance writer on the arts and a regular contributor to www.narthaki.com