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Martial strokes, moving message

Kriti Arora's photographs and paintings come with hidden messages.

Kriti Arora's attachment to the Indian Army began before she was born. Her maternal grandfather had retired from the brigade after a long innings, only to be emulated by her maternal uncle. Two people she spent many impressionable years with.

So a series of army men's tales told to her continued to grow within her. Centring on times spent at the frontiers, times good and trying.

Paintings of soldiers

And perhaps that has found an unconscious vent in her latest paintings shown recently at Art Alive in New Delhi.

Four huge canvases, hung at the gallery as part of a group show, contain rather crude faces made hard by the daily grind, pulsating with pairs of eyes that seem to address you directly.

The colours she chooses are reminiscent of Army green but become indistinguishable from the darker shades of her strokes.

The `darkness' in them seems to be willing to tell a little-known anecdote.

"These soldiers on the canvases are real people. I had gone with my camera to click pictures of army men in the Kargil sector sometime back. I had exhibited that work in Delhi. This time, I have painted them," Kriti says.

An art graduate from Baroda, Kriti, more into photography otherwise, is currently on a three-month Alliance Françoise scholarship to Paris to take pictures of non-resident Indians making good in France.

"NRIs in France are now a sizeable population. They are doing well in every pitch and so it is important to show this to people back home through photographs, at a time when Europe is beginning to be considered not quite a friendly pasture anymore. These people are part of a history that needs to be saved for the future," she says. Soon after returning, Kriti plans to hold an exhibition of her work as part of the fellowship.

"Also, I would be doing an exhibition of the works of a few MCD school students to whom I taught clay pottery at the Garden of Five Senses as part of a Delhi Government initiative," she adds.

SANGEETA BAROOAH PISHAROTY

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