One thing is common in writer and painter that both try to depict their inner feelings, emotions and ideas but one uses words other paints. Being a student of literature my curiosity leads me to other fields of fine arts for further exploration of creative works. And when I received an invitation from Shashi Kapoor to visit her art exhibition, my reply was –yes. Undoubtedly, whenever I traveled to other countries the museums and art galleries were all the time in my priority list and fortunately I got a few fine opportunities to see well known art works. And it certainly helped me in comprehending, to some extent, the trends, modes, forms, mediums, ideologies and styles in paintings.
Shashi’s solo exhibition of paintings was recently featured at “The Silk Purse”, Community Centre in West Vancouver from October 18-30. Although her debut of solo exhibition of paintings was made, at the same Centre, earlier in 1995 but since then her paintings have been featured at several other art- group-exhibitions in Metro Vancouver.
She was born in Nairobi and immigrated to Canada with her family in 1973. I was interested to know more about her art thus asked a couple of questions:
What did inspire you for paintings?
Shashi-“From my school days I was deeply interested in watercolor- painting. I got fascinated with nature, human- beings, birds, animals and mythologies. Most importantly I started painting as a hobby”.
How did you learn the art of mixing colors, selecting subjects and techniques of handling brush?”.
Shashi-“ I’m a self taught artist in different fields of art with no formal training. The only course which I took was Paint Brush Techniques in Chinese Painting that too at later part of my life. The art of holding a brush with paint and water in Chinese painting is completely different than the established Western tradition. Now I constantly read art magazines and books to update my knowledge”.
How do you conceptualize a piece of painting?
Shashi-“I start with main theme in my mind. As you know, paper has four sides of border and painting has to fit within those borders and while developing it I add and delete certain things which are not in harmony with my theme. I go on working till I’m satisfied. Art is a form of meditation and you
Have to become one with paper, color/pencil and thought”.
Did you explore other forms of painting than watercolors?
Shashi-“Yes I do like painting in pencil and ink but I’ve been always intrigued by watercolors and did not realize that working with watercolors was tougher than oil, pastel or acrylic”.
What was your first achievement?
Shashi-: My a couple of first paintings were auctioned to raise funds for Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s Temple of Burnaby in the year 1980 to pay a part of mortgage. As in those days the Hindu community was small in Vancouver and it was a bit difficult to raise funds”.
Did you use your paintings for other charitable works?
Shashi-“Yes, I’m heavily involved in supporting and fundraising events of Indo-Canadian organizations, churches, hospitals, local community groups and United Way; and money collected through auctions of my paintings was always donated to charities”.
How do you incorporate your observations, experiences and spiritual interpretations in paintings?
Shashi-“I find art everywhere and beauty in everything. I traveled a lot and all the time tried to observe deeply the things around me. No doubt, I have obsession for aborigines -Masai, Rajasthan village- maids and native- Canadians and find abode of divinity in them. Over the years, I have painted many deities and that has given me inner satisfaction which is difficult to express in words. To me art is nothing but an expression of soul. Although when we look around find chaos everywhere but deep in all that mess there is tranquility and order. Moreover, I also believe that art is a way of life and as people’s life is not free from challenges so is an art too. Art gives an artist the power of action. The brush and paints are means of expression and when we become one with all then hand flows to create a beautiful painting”.
I noticed that Shashi has applied primarily basic soft colors. The intricate designs of dresses, lively faces, fusion of colors have positively enhanced a visual and aesthetic affects of her paintings. The multi-layers of themes can easily attract viewers of wide interests. Some of her paintings remind me the watercolor paintings of Becky McMahon, Wendy Mould and Marney Rose Edge.