You step out of the shimmering lake, nudging flowers and heavy creepers out of the way, directly onto the plush brown carpeting of a crowded hotel lobby. Because Keiko Mima’s painting, ‘Lotus in the Late Summer Morning’, is unsettlingly real.
‘Flowers and Dreams’, the exhibition of paintings by Keiko Mima and Vahula, opened last week at Brew, Taj Mount Road.
We begin in the translucent light of a ‘Mid-summer Morning’, where the colours of the leaves and foliage are yet to come into their own, and the pale white buds can hardly be seen against the luminous sky. There is a hibiscus, startlingly red and throbbing with life, in ‘A Corner of the Garden’.
Walking in the woods
Then, Keiko takes us through a woody shade of trees and blossoms in her paintings, where timid lavenders and audacious pinks strike a merry contrast against the drooping leaves, from dawn to dusk, and spring through autumn, all with her adroit play of light.
For instance, by ‘Late Summer’, the leaves are beginning to brown at the edges, the petals are fewer and the stems are sighing tiredly. There is also the ‘Late Summer Lotus’, solitary amidst leaves that have long since dropped to the ground. The sky is purple, and darker than the faded flower.
‘Lotus in the Late Summer Morning’ is a wider view of the lake Keiko has broken up and explored in each of her paintings, with delicate brown trees forming the background, while thick undergrowth and a tumultuous mane of creepers grazes the water in the foreground.
“It took me two months to finish this one painting,” Keiko says. “I painted the flowers first, because it hasn’t rained much this year, so they’d only last about three days.”
Her art is startlingly honest — it doesn’t shy away from the decay of the foliage or the dying leaves. That, she attributes, to the Japanese influence in her work. “Indian painting is more decorative, the frame is usually full of vivacious flowers and fresh leaves; but Japanese art is also about the process and the journey — we love the dry leaves as well!” she smiles.
The other set of paintings at the exhibition are by Vahula, who uses riotous colours, bold and filled with movement, loosely held together by stark lines and curves, to create a series of women, caught in poises and postures — flowing, faceless figures in jades and dark blues, yellows and browns. There are mustard arms, maroon hair, green backs, blue hips, red backs, parrot-green skirts and burnt pink saris, all coming together to craft effortlessly elegant women, and their stories.
The exhibition will be on at Brew till October 20.