Rachel Thomas' exhibition of paintings titled ‘Gypsy on Mov' is on till June 24

Rachel Thomas' collection of paintings titled ‘Gypsy on Mov' (No, we haven't misspelt Mov. Gypsy on Mov is how she is known on Orkut) lives up to its name as her paintings reflect her desire to be on the move, like a gypsy. If one image is set in the deserts of Africa, another shifts to China, and yet another to an English seaside.

Discovering new places

A voracious reader, Rachel travels to new places through literature.The deserts of Africa and its women have long attracted Rachel and the artist has translated her fascination for the country in a couple of her paintings.

A three-in-one canvas (a signature style of the artist as she joins two or three frames like jigsaw pieces to create a complete picture) titled ‘Wild But Beautiful' has figurines of African women in various poses. There is something in the way they stand, the arch of their backs and the way they hold their head that captures their fiery spirit. ‘Jungle Queen' too is an ode to the African women as it depicts a profile of a regal looking African Queen wearing chunky jewellery.

Poems and inspirational quotes too have motivated the artist to pick up the paint brush. If Joyce Kilmer's poem ‘Trees' finds expression on canvas with an image of a tree and its branches swirling and twirling as if dancing in the wind, Lord Byron's verses ‘Oh that the desert were my dwelling place, with one fair spirit for my minister…' has an African woman seated on a sand dune facing the blazing sun.

Rabindranath Tagore's ‘The Crescent Moon' takes viewers to the beach .

Focus on women

A self-taught artist, women feature in most of Rachel's paintings. If ‘Salsa Dancer' has her capturing the vibrancy of the movements of a salsa dancer, ‘The Bangle Seller' has a Rajasthani woman showing off the bangles on her wrists.

‘Silent Lullaby' has a close-up of a woman, her eyes looking down fondly. One wonders if she is singing to herself. Music for the soul?

Rachel's signature style paintings are noteworthy as the artist has cleverly used the technique to make it seem as if the viewers are viewing the images through a window. Among these paintings, ‘Poppy Flower' and ‘Rearing Horses' stand out. While the former has the red blooms viewed from various sides, ‘Rearing Horses' shows two horses who are straining to break free.

Rachel's paintings also seem to hint at a longing to break free; a longing to show herself through her paintings. Take her ‘Guitar Babe,' for instance. It has a woman shielded by her guitar. Done in shades of black and white, the only flash of colour in ‘Guitar Babe' is the flaming red of the guitar. Is it the artist's way of saying ‘Hey, this is me!'? ‘Out of Frame' also hints at this. A picture within a picture, it shows a demure-looking woman stepping out of a frame.

‘Gypsy on the Mov' is on at Art Gallery, Alliance Francaise de Trivandrum till June 24.