Conversations on Canvas
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In artist Neeta Mohindra's works, where stage and canvas are an intrinsic part of the creative connect, Mohindra finds expression through theatre and painting. At a recent exhibition titled "Prithmanian", Mohindra brought the untold stories of important women in Sikh history alive on canvas, with a minimalistic touch — one that brought Mohindra's performance and visual talent to the fore. While researching on the subject that dealt with women in the life of the Sikh gurus, Mohindra could not find any authentic images of these unsung heroes. It's then that she decided to use theatre to create these images. "Natyashastra considers art an amalgamation of theatre, dance, music, and painting. There is no compartmentalisation. I am both an actor and a painter. There are no contradictions or debates in my mind regarding that. And I enjoy using new mediums, technology and inputs to express myself,'' she says.
With calligraphy as conversation, poetry in footnotes and captions and a costume drama for artwork in the making, in the evolving world of art, artists are increasingly using poetry, sacred texts, theatrical elements and writings to create different strokes.
In Mohindra's case, the theatre actor, director and painter studied the character of each woman by using her imagination, literature, and technology and enacted the role on stage to create an authentic image. She roped in a designer to make costumes for each character and to be painted according to the period, apart from getting a photo shoot done to create the present series. "It had to be authentic for the viewer, so I used a few graphic techniques and text to talk about these women,'' says Mohindra, who adds that for her, communication is the key. A little later, for her show "Centrestage", she painted the characters she had enacted on stage and a detailed brochure apprised the audience about the roles and how paintings were an extension of the acts. At present, Mohindra is working on a series of paintings on Punjabi and Kashmiri Sufi women, and is looking forward to perform their lives on stage as part of her quest. "I have found my language and need to keep exploring new vocabularies,'' reflects Mohindra.