Art An exhibition of paintings by Geeth Karthika, Nirupama Mishra and Sojaa Soman is an expression of their deep interest in colours and forms

Large lotus-eyed figures intertwined in verdant havens filled with deer and peacocks had taken over the Museum Auditorium. The auditorium was filled with women and at the centre of it all were three women – soul sisters and creators of the beautiful exhibition of paintings in the mural style.

Geeth Karthika, who now divides her time between Oman and India, began to dabble in paints when she was a young homemaker in Oman. Geeth's early paintings are water colours depicting market scenes and faces in Oman. As a homemaker with two daughters, Geeth began pursuing painting on a full time basis after her elder daughter left for college.

On a holiday to Kerala, Geeth felt drawn towards murals and even attempted to paint her own sans any training, but later sought professional guidance.

Geeth's paintings echo her art and a style that is steeped in tradition (incidentally, she's a native of Kilimanoor – Raja Ravi Varma's birthplace). Striking earth shades dominate her works. Her paintings ‘Kathakali' and ‘Theyyam' feature the vibrancy and beauty of traditional Kerala arts, while her painting ‘Kunjuathol' portrays a shy and charming Malayali beauty.

Nirupama Mishra, a native of Lucknow, came to the city, on account of her husband's job. Missing family and friends, Nirupama vented her energy on painting landscapes in water colours. In her exploration of the city, she discovered painting classes that were being conducted at the Government College for Women, and enrolled for the same. The result is a collection filled with classic images including ‘Krishna-Radha' and ‘Shakunthala.' The highlight of her collection is a 6 ft by 3 ft painting of Sita with her hand maidens (‘Sita and Dasis').

“The size of the painting is the size of my dining table and for six months my family saw me paint, roll away the painting, serve dinner and paint again,” says Nirupama. She now sees Kerala as her home and her love for the State and its beaches have resulted in the abstract painting – ‘The Dream' that shows three women soaking in the ocean and the moonlight, making their way to the stars.

And finally it is the turn of petite and vivacious Sojaa Soman. Sojaa was attracted to mural art when she saw her neighbour Nirupama's work in the mural style. She then sought professional guidance and began painting, working furiously into the night and even falling asleep at her work.

In shades of blue

Her midnight painting sprees have resulted in a collection filled with the colour blue (an unusual shade for murals). Sojaa's paintings have a dreamy feel with musing figures in enchanting forest scenes.

Her painting ‘Gandharva Yamam' shows Gandharva and Apsara flying in the clouds against an azure backdrop. ‘Krishna-Radha Shringaram' features Krishna and Radha lost in love in a forest haven. In ‘Apsaralatha,' a beautiful woman lies dreaming on a lotus. Sojaa's collection also includes some Tanjore and glass paintings.

The three women laugh, tease and speak passionately about mural painting. All three are students of both Anitha (from Women's College) and Prince Thonnakkal.

Mural painting binds them together with Sojaa and Nirupama often seeking each other's feedback and Geeth keeping in touch across the ocean. Sojaa and Nirupama are unanimous in crediting Geeth as the propelling force behind the exhibition. As homemakers and mothers of girls, the three women see painting as a force that made them come out of their shells and fly unfettered. The three ladies have lined up exhibitions in Kochi, Chennai, Bangalore and abroad.