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God and life

Drawn To Life is the title of artist Rini Dhumal's latest exhibition as well as of the newly-launched coffee table book featuring her sketches. The sketches on canvas and in the book chart out the artist’s passion for art and the numerous muses that have sparked her creations, ranging from the mythological tales of Goddess Durga to the Jataka tales

Q. Tell us about Drawn to Life, the exhibition and the book.
A. Drawn to Life is about how an artist perceives drawing. Each artist has his/her signature style, which they reflect in their works. When I travel around the world, I make it a point to carry my sketchbook. Through my excursions, I noticed that each civilisation and religion was different from another. However, they always influence each other. For example — Buddhism spread from India to China and now, it has spread all over the world again. One can also see how any ancient civilisation, be it Egyptian or the Greek civilisation, has a certain degree of impact on one another.

An untitled artwork by Rini Dhumal
An untitled artwork by Rini Dhumal

Q. Some of your latest works are based on the Jataka tales. What drew you to the theme?
A. The Jataka tales are about the life of Buddha. Each tale is narrated in a special way to the readers and the audience. In my works, there are influences from all over the world as well as the Jataka tales. They have always been a personal favourite, and hence, I incorporated them. The show’s highlights included drawings and oil paintings. I have quite a few works related to the ancient holy city of Banaras, which holds emotional value for me. There is a pun on the title Drawn to Life as written by Ina Puri. You are drawing all the time and you are drawn to the life surrounding you, which reflects in your work.

Durga, watercolour on paper, from the Hampi series
Durga, watercolour on paper, from the Hampi series 

Q. Was there a reason why the book was brought out at this point of time?
A. I have travelled extensively, and to almost every part of the world with the constant need to learn more. As a result,
I have innumerable sketches and I wanted to put it together to let people know what drawing can do and to tell them my story. There was a time when people wouldn’t travel around the world. However, now, they travel all over and thus, it will make it more interesting for them to see the same places that they have visited, from the eyes of an artist.

Untitled, water colour and gouache
Untitled, water colour and gouache

Medusa, water colour and gouache
Medusa, water colour and gouache


Untitled, water colour and gouache
Untitled, water colour and gouache

Grecian Vase
Grecian Vase, mixed media. All works are made on Chinese gold board.

Q. What appeals to you about the feminine figure, since it features in most of your drawings?
A. Figurative painting is my forte. I have always sketched and painted figures, especially with relation to women empowerment. Women are extraordinary creatures who aren’t given their due in some parts of the society. My painting shows ordinary women but who have an empowered sense in them. They have poise, captivating expressions and a sense of a dignified aura surrounding them.

Drawn to Life
Drawn to Life: Sketchbooks of Rini Dhumal, Edited by Ina Puri, Mapin Publishing, Rs 2,000. Available at Tao Art Gallery (till the show is on) and leading book stores.

Q. The images in the book showcase flights of fantasy as well as images of places ranging from Indonesia to Cambodia, Egypt and Jerusalem; what was the idea behind showcasing such a myriad range of images?
A. I saw whatever I wanted to and whatever I could absorb, has found it’s path to my canvas. I have a certain level of drawing, which depicts aptly all the civilisations I have travelled to. As a result, if one sees my works in the show, I have given titles to each artwork explaining my thought behind the piece. This is not a historical book. It is my personal expression about the places that I visited. There is a powerful underlying message that draws you to all these places when you visit them, be it Egypt, India, Greece, etc. To each painting, there is their significance. The Karnak temple in Egypt and Ellora temple in India signify immense grandeur. The artist who had built and designed these temples has stumped me by their work as these still stand today. I would call it an architectural wonder. These wonders and these civilisations is what has influenced my work right from the start.

Rini Dhumal
Rini Dhumal

Till: December 16, 11 am to 7 pm
At: Tao Art Gallery, 165, The View, Dr Annie Besant Road, Worli.
Call: 24918585

Artist's impressions

>> Rini Dhumal went as a cultural scholar to study in Shanti Niketan under Somnath Hore where she learned the art of the Bengal School and how an artist’s thought process should be.

>> Her works feature religious icons, mythology, the feminine figure and sketches of her journeys.

>> Her tryst with drawing began in childhood when she spent summer holidays at her grandfather’s ancestral home, in Itapur (now in Bangladesh). She befriended the widows the family had given shelter to and listened to the stories of their lives. She began her journey as an artist, documenting the stories of the widowed women.

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