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The many hues of Kashmir

Kashmiri artist Promila Kaul captures the many hues of the Valley in a new solo show that opens today

A young woman walks through a storm, the sky appears agitated with bursts of yellow and blue replicating a storm. But she doesn’t let it break her will, as she walks with a newborn child in her arms. Promila Kaul’s painting, Bundle Of Joy, is nothing short of a masterpiece as she plays with colours in her new solo, Hues Of Life, opening at the Artists Centre gallery, today.

The determination of Bundle Of Joy turns to longing in another frame, as if seeking a way to return to the past, perhaps an abode long lost, in her case the valley of Kashmir, which she was forced to leave behind during the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits in the 1980s.

The Women At The Threshold serves as a never-dying desire of two friends for a better future, in this case perhaps, a return to the valley of Kashmir
The Women At The Threshold serves as a never-dying desire of two friends for a better future, in this case perhaps, a return to the valley of Kashmir

The longing, however, is not just for Kashmir but also of her love for painting, which she gave up after leaving the state. “I was learning painting under Kashmiri artist BK Sultan. I had painted quite a lot of works, but I lost most when we left Srinagar,” she says. Sultan, who was a hearing and speech-impaired artist, would communicate with Kaul via sign language, something which, she says, helped her understand art better.

Kashmiri Mother and Child, an acrylic work on canvas also serves as the poster of the exhibition,  Hues Of Life
Kashmiri Mother and Child, an acrylic work on canvas also serves as the poster of the exhibition, Hues Of Life

Most of the subjects in Kaul’s current show revolve around Kashmiri Hindu women — a section she feels is not represented well in art. “There’s so much work on women from other cultures, but we see almost none on Kashmiri women. I wish to paint more of them,” says the artist, who relies mostly on her memories, imagination and some old photos to recreate the past.

Promila Kaul’s Bundle Of Joy with its dominant blue colour, serves as a faint reminder of Van Gogh’s famous painting, The Starry Night. The artist plays with the same set of colours but a lighter palette
Promila Kaul’s Bundle Of Joy with its dominant blue colour, serves as a faint reminder of Van Gogh’s famous painting, The Starry Night. The artist plays with the same set of colours but a lighter palette

Kaul started painting with oil colours, but most of the works in the show are acrylic on canvas. The artist says that the medium doesn’t matter as much to her as colours. “To me, lines or medium don’t matter as much as the play of colours does, and you will see a lot of them in the show,” she adds.

The artist took a voluntary retirement from her job as a teacher four years ago to devote time to painting and her family. And the current show is a result of her work over a period of three years. Even though she is past 50, age doesn’t seem to be a deterrent. “Most women give up after 50, but I want to tell them that there’s still so much more you can do. This show marks a new beginning for me,” sums up Kaul.

Time: 11 am to 7 pm
Till: April 10
At: Artists Centre Art Gallery, Ador House, K Dubash Marg, Kala Ghoda.
Call: 22845939

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