Artist Jayashree Jayapaul’s paintings are inspired by the Bible

Bible themes lend themselves to paintings. Children are initiated into the Christian faith in Sunday Schools with stories from the Bible. Often, more than the text, it is the accompanying illustrations that transport them to the Garden of Eden or Noah’s Ark and introduce them to Joseph and his multi-coloured coat, and so on.

Jayashree Jayapaul’s ongoing exhibition on the theme ‘Biblical couples’ at the Urban Spice gallery brings alive emotive portraits that define the Bibliclal times.

At the first cursory glance, the dozen canvasses crowding the small room look alike. But a closer second look reveals not only the differences but the depth of the characters conveyed through the powerful expressions and the vibrant colours. Each painting hides layers of meaning and it is left to the discerning viewer to unravel it. The self-taught artist has portrayed Biblical couples, 10 from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament.

They are the pious first century missionary couple Priscilla and Aquila, Ruth and Boaz, a bejewelled Queen Esther with an equally bedecked King Ahasuerus of Persia and long-haired Samson and the seductive Delilah.

Walking around studying the canvasses, one recognises the innocent David and Abigail juxtaposed with voyeuristic King David and Bathsheba. In another painting Rebecca meets an eager Isaac. The painting of Joseph accepting virgin Mary with Jesus in the womb has emotional undertones.

The artist has poured her soul into the paintings. The eyes tell the story. The eyes of Sarah and Abraham are so expressive.

The Midianite woman Zipphorah's eyes reflect her sister-in-law Miriam's mockery, and the cunning in Delilah’s eyes is there for everyone to see. Stories from the Bible come alive at this exhibition.