“Kerala murals were originally painted on the walls of palaces, temples and churches with just five colours, extracted from plants and locally available minerals like laterite. There are set rules on what shade of each colour to use and what each colour represents. But, since natural pigments easily fade with exposure to light, this art is now being done on canvas with acrylic paints, as I have done, to make it more enduring. I have also bended the rules a little bit and tried using brighter shades which are more appealing to present viewers. I have also tried using the colours differently. For example, even though orange is the colour that is usually used for a background, I have also tried using blue and yellow in its place,” explains Bhavani.
Murals primarily being a temple art, the artist has centered most of her works on Hindu Gods. “It seemed more logical to do the art around Hindu mythology and Kerala specific details because of its origin. But I have also included one non-religious work in the exhibition. It was done for the India Habitat Centre and it represents a princess being dressed by her servants. However, they wanted a more elaborate piece with jungles and gardens around the image. So, what I’m exhibiting here is similar, but not exactly the same as the installation I did for the Delhi exhibition,” she adds.
The murals depict Ganesha, Shiva Thandavam, Dasavatharam and Ananthashayanam, to name a few. Referring to her entry into arts, she says, “Since my father was also an artist, I was introduced into this field really early. But I suppose I started taking this more seriously only about 20 years ago. I held my first exhibition in 2008. It was called Different Strokes and it featured the oil paintings done by my father, the watercolours done by my son and my Chinese Brush paintings. Chinese Brush paintings are difficult to master and I had to go and learn the art from Malaysia to perfect the style. We still don’t have a lot of artists who do this style in India. Apart from murals and Chinese brush, I have also done Tanjore paintings and oil painting.”