Artist Rini Dhumal explores the relationship between the image and word in her latest solo

Tibetan flags at the entrance are an indicator of what awaits the viewer inside the gallery. A host of art works — ceramic plates, reverse painting, acrylic and oil on wood etc. — all swathed in colour augment the festive spirit. Rini Dhumal’s women — more pronounced than ever — are at the centre of this celebration that has dotted her artistic journey so far. It is only her delineation of the woman that has been changing with time. In ‘The Japanese Wife and Other Tales’, her exhibition in the Capital after seven years, Rini, a printmaker and painter from M.S. University, Baroda, draws her women from acclaimed literary works. One of the main works in the show ‘The Japanese Wife’ is based on Kunal Basu’s story by the same name. Basu’s story moved Rini so much that she decided to base an art work on it. The lone figure of a woman holding an umbrella occupies prime space in Rini’s canvas. Giving her company is ‘The Japanese Wife’ written in Japanese in that space bereft of Rini’s usual symbols and motifs. Bearing a zen like feel, the work manages to reflect the simplicity of Basu’s story. The senior artist also does a Bengali version of it which is more crowded with symbols that strongly remind the viewer of the story — the gifts exchanged between the two, letters and the boat.

She then pays homage to Bengali filmmaker Rituparno Ghosh, who passed away this year in her work, ‘Homage to Rituparno Ghosh’ by depicting him as Chitrangada of Chitrangada: The Crowning Wish, the film Ghosh made — inspired by Rabindranath Tagore’s Chitrangada — and acted in. The artist forges a link between Ghosh and Chitrangada in their desire to be a woman. “It is very touching. My women don’t look down upon men. They all just say ‘Here I am’. My women have only evolved as I have grown as an artist and as a woman,” says the Vadodara-based artist.

The artist feels that while her women remain assertive as ever, their portrayal has become bolder. “The texturing is going away slowly…so are the other elements that surround my women. I have been reading a lot and that’s how my works have got a narrative quality to it,” says Rini, whose other works are inspired by nine incarnations of Durga painted on a wooden jharokha. Rituparno Ghosh’s Antarmahal provides fodder for another work in which she depicts the woman from Jorasanko. “All the elements from their lives, playing cards, chess board…everything is there because that’s what these women used to do,” says the artist.

(The Japanese Wife and Other Tales is on at Art Alive Gallery, Panchsheel Park, till November 25)