Happiness in Art

Six years after her last show, French artist Maite Delteil returns to Mumbai with a new body of work

I have always been interested in making happy paintings," says Maite Delteil. "There's no war and fights in my work." A simple glance at her work is enough to confirm this statement. Brightly coloured and mostly perfectly round trees, serene-looking people and pretty birds populate her intricately detailed paintings. A series of her latest works, done mostly between 2009 and now, and a couple of older ones are being showcased at Art Musings gallery, Colaba, for a solo exhibition titled "Enchanted" until February 12.

Although a French artist, Delteil's connection with India began many decades ago when she married Indian painter Sakti Burman in 1963. Her first solo show in India followed one year later in Kolkata, after which she has continued to exhibit her work regularly in the country. This ongoing exhibition, however, comes five years after her last, a solo show in Kolkata. Incidentally, both Burman and she only showcase their new work in India now, but continue to live and work in Paris for six months of the year. "Ever since 2001, I've exhibited my work only in India," she says, "The economy here has become much better so we come here to show our work, and it's also very important to Sakti that we do so."

Besides being clearly joyous, there's also something undeniably surreal, even meditative about Delteil's paintings. It's rather easy to get lost in the colours and details in some of the larger works, for instance. But these aren't things she aims to achieve with her work. "I'm not a person who thinks too much before I start painting," the 79-year-old artist says. "Of course, I think about the composition of colours and all of that, but I don't control my work too much," she adds. The intense detailing, however, has always been a part of her work. "I have always done things very meticulously. I'm very precise and I don't like to leave things half done," she says.

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