Saturday, April 23, 2011

Possibilities of varying kinds

In a painting cum ceramics exhibition, 'Apposite Possibilities', at Kochi, artistes Parul Shah and Sushma Anand display eye-catching works

By Shevlin Sebastian

Photos: Parul Shah with the 'Lady with a Sunflower'; Sushma Anand

The Mumbai-based artist Parul Shah has a friend, Megha (name changed). She is a housewife, who spends her time looking after her family, which includes her son, husband, and in-laws. “Megha has talent in singing and art, but is unable to develop her potential because of social restrictions,” says Parul.

The painter was struck by her friend's predicament and drew her in a state of contemplation. “My friend is not beautiful like Aishwarya Rai, but she has a delicate grace,” says Parul. In fact, Megha's face is shining, and she has nice, thick, sensual lips. Her low-cut nightie displays her upper body to good effect: healthy and sexy.

Megha seems to be thinking, 'What am I doing with my life?' as she stares at the sunflower in her hand. “I deliberately placed the sunflower because I wanted to pass a message to all the women in the world,” says Parul. “You can flower as a person, provided you believe in yourself.” This painting, titled, 'The Lady with a Sunflower,' has its effect on the viewer. So, it is no surprise that it won the best portrait award of the Bombay Art Society for 2010.

In 'Expressions', a nearly nude woman is lying on the bed, her legs encased in a white sheet, her face resting on the back of her elbow, as she seems to be contemplating something. “There is a beauty in being nude,” says Parul. “The woman is a bit plump, but she has an innate loveliness.”

Clearly, women are the theme in all of Parul's paintings. “I want to capture women in different moods,” she says. “Men have flat expressions. On the other hand, women have such wonderful moods, they have a beauty and a softness in their features. That is why I use dry pastels, because it is a very delicate medium.”

Meanwhile, as she speaks, her husband, businessman Hitesh Shah is taking photographs of her. “I want my wife to become famous, so that I can be known as Parul Shah's husband,” he says. “She is my best friend and I want her to be independent and think on her own.”

Incidentally, this is Parul's first exhibition outside Mumbai. Her work is part of an exhibition called, 'Apposite Possibilities', held at the Vernissage Art Gallery , Kochi , where she shares space with ceramics painter Sushma Anand.

The effervescent Sushma, with the ready smile, went to Kodaikanal last year to spend time at the studio of her guru, Ray Meeker. “The aim was to do a lot of pottery,” she says. But Sushma was taken aback by the beauty of Kodaikanal and turned to ceramics.

“I have taken actual leaves that I saw there and impressed them on the clay,” she says. “Then I burnt it in a kiln and added colours.” Her series is all about nature. There are flowers, weeds, ferns, moths, and a pear tree.

A striking work is an enlarged leaf of the pear tree. “I was there in the month of October and the leaves were falling,” says Sushma. “I painted the upper half in orange. However, the leaves turn completely red when it falls on the floor.”

To make an impact, she made it larger than life, and, clearly, it would look fantastic on any house wall.

Another good work is called 'Frog Mural'. One day Sushma was sitting outside and saw a frog in the garden. So she did a quick sketch, and suddenly it leaped off. “So I placed both these actions in the mural,” she says.

For Sushma, Nature is her biggest inspiration. “I see forms and designs talking to me all the time,” she says. And right from a very young age, Sushma loved to work with clay. “The smell when you put water into the clay is intoxicating,” she says. “It is the same smell that you get when rain falls on mud for the first time.”

Her favoured medium is stoneware. This is formed by mixing five to six types of clay, like chinaclay in Kerala and ballclay in Bikaner. The end result: eye-catching works.

The exhibition is on till April 30 at Vernissage, behind Avenue Centre, Panampilly Nagar, Kochi. Phone: 4000903.

(The New Indian Express, Kochi)

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