Egyptian Abeer Shah says Bangalore's appreciation for the arts makes it endearing

She is soft-spoken, warm and sensitive. And she's an artist. Abeer Shah intrigues. She has defied all restrictions to pour her heart and soul into her first love — painting. Abeer, an Egyptian who settled in Bangalore a year ago, quit a boring desk job to become an artist. While she organised private shows of her works in Cairo, Bangalore has been a lucky charm for her.

For the first time, Abeer's works will be displayed in the Renaissance Art Gallerie along with the works of some other noted artists of the city. “I feel both excited and nervous at the same time,” Abeer says, smiling.

Her paintings have an almost Van Gogh-like quality. I wonder if she is inspired by European artists. Abeer agrees. “I admire the works of Van Gogh, the French artist Monet and Pablo Picasso's earlier works. Van Gogh's works are innocent, dynamic and beautiful. Monet's style is romantic while Picasso is bold.” She picks up a beautiful oil painting of hers that is a riot of soothing colours: indigo, yolk yellow, purple and green. The swirl of colours blends beautifully together. “My canvas, knife and paint brush are my greatest tools,” explains Abeer. After completing a painting, Abeer uses her artist's knife to further craft her work. “My creativity gushes forth when I scrape and cut through my paintings.” This technique lends character to her paintings.

Abeer prefers abstract paintings. “I have a free style. I just go with the flow while painting. At times, I can even see beauty in a mess!”

So what does she love about Bangalore? “It depends the way one looks at a new place. If one thinks, ‘I am a foreigner, this place isn't home', he or she is likely to see only the negative aspects. But I have seen so many wonderful sides to Bangalore. The city is very cosmopolitan and art is encouraged here. I love Bangalorean's sense of colour. Everything is bright and nice and inspires me. Reds, oranges and yellows are colours you won't find anywhere else in the world. They are so beautiful,” she gushes.

Abeer speaks with much fondness about Egypt. “Egyptians are kind, very friendly and generous. They are proud of their culture too. Like India, we have a history of struggle that both countries triumphed over. There are quite a few parallels between Indian and Egyptian culture.”

Abeer has travelled to other cities, such as Kolkata, Delhi, Ajmer and Jaipur, but none, according to her, can compare to Bangalore. “Within the next five to ten years, this city will develop immensely.”

Abeer contends that to adapt in a new city, it's essential to expand one's circle of friends. She has gone out of her way to meet new people and discuss her works with them. This led her to finding the right people who would recognise the artist in her.

Her paintings will be on display at the Renaissance Gallerie, 104, West Minster, Cunningham Road from May 14 to 19, except Sundays. Call: 22202232 or visit www.renaissancegallerie.com