Inspired by the Valley
RENUKA VIJAY KUMAR
Chandana Khan's latest collection bridges the Indo-European gap in paintings.
Chandana's artwork inspired by stained glass
To use jute, woven mats and handmade paper for the purpose it's been made for is one thing, but to use it as a medium to highlight another form of art is something one can learn from Chandana Khan.
As Commissioner of Enquiries, the lady has her hands full, but that hasn't stopped her from painting and displaying one collection after another, the latest one being - East Meets West: Culture, Religion, Myth and some images of Kashmir. An amalgamation of two themes, the exhibition (and sale) had one section devoted to the East Meets West: Culture, Religion, Myth theme and another to the paintings influenced by the Valley. But what is truly commendable is her use of various papers and textures to complement her art. A visit to London and the Canterbury Church last year got her thinking on how she could incorporate western styles in her painting techniques. With the stained glass she saw there as inspiration, Chandana came back and painted a similar style on canvas.
She appreciated the religious themes that she saw and the result was vibrant paintings based on religion and myth, marked with bold, dark lines to give an illusion of a stained glass effect. Pointing to a painting of a mermaid, she says, "A mermaid is a part of Indian as well as European myth. Such instances of similar mythological figures existed from the beginning in parallel civilisations." For the images of Kashmir she painted inspirations from her trip to an art camp in Kud in Jammu and Kashmir and also what she saw as she travelled across Srinagar, Pahalgam and Gulmarg.
The paintings are done on handmade paper sourced from Auroville. Some of the sheets have dried petals embedded on them and they lend to the paintings of the valley of flowers, while the background with the gold streaks add dynamism to the foreground painting. Also on display were some jute and mat wall hangings by Chandana. The mats were ornamented with glass pieces that she had bought from the banjaras themselves. What stood out in this collection was a smooth surfaced mat with Madhubani style paintings on it.
Done in subtle colours, so well did the paintings merge with the texture and background that it looked printed from a distance. In addition to the paintings and mats, another example of her multifarious abilities were the two fibreglass busts that stood in one corner one of a man and the other of a village belle. "I've just learnt to make these sculptures and am in the process of learning more," she says.
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