Senior citizen Uma Lohtia celebrates 100 years of Delhi as India's Capital with an art show

Delhi fascinates many but few go to the extent of painting it. Seventy-seven-year-old Delhi resident Uma Lohtia is an exception. Such is the influence of the city on her that she has rolled out a series of paintings to mark 100 years of Delhi as India's Capital. Lohtia is all set to display her art works at the India Habitat Centre from next week. She has named her maiden show “The Living Legions of Delhi”, a tribute to its monuments and their rich architecture.

“Every monument has its own story to tell which makes it even more interesting. My paintings are a revival of history. I have painted those monuments which have survived for many years,” says Lohtia. To paint them, she recalls setting out all by herself to places like the Lodi Gardens, Humayun's tomb and Jama Masjid and select the angles. “I picked a few books on Delhi monuments and went to see each area on my own. I painted a side view of Lodi Gardens. I have done an angle of Humayun's tomb, painted Isa khan's tomb with the broken door and Diwan-e-Khas with dancers performing in it.”

To add life to her paintings, Lohtia has added royal elephants, girls dancing in vivid red and green ghagras, Indian drummers playing in front of them. “It must have been like this in the olden days,” she says. Other than that, her pieces of art are as real as her subjects. “If there is a brick in my view, I have painted it. If the stones are broken somewhere, they are as it is in my paintings too.”

“The Living Legions of Delhi” includes 30 paintings of Delhi's monuments. Lohtia says she had a lot of difficulty finding a venue to exhibit her works. “V. Mohini Giri, the chairperson of the Guild of Service, was very happy to see a woman of my age pursuing her interest, she helped me find the venue.”

Lohtia, a former student of Lady Irwin College, draws her inspiration from “anything natural and pretty”. “I like to paint old style, something that has meaning,” she says.

She took to painting at the age of 60, when she visited her daughter in the U.S. “I did not have a lot to do there. She encouraged me to paint and I started with a couple of paintings for her house.” After her return, she painted on and off, but a few years later, she closed down her textile business and decided follow her passion.