‘My East and West,’ an exhibition of Nissa Riyas’s paintings began at the Kerala Lalithakala Akademi Art Gallery in Kozhikode on Saturday

Light, and often the lack of it, has a major role to play in the paintings of Nissa Riyas. This Dubai-based self-taught artist, with roots in Kerala, bends light to her will quite effortlessly.

‘My East and West,’ an exhibition of Ms. Riyas’s paintings that began at the Kerala Lalithakala Akademi Art Gallery in Kozhikode on Saturday, is mainly a recollection of what she witnessed on her long journeys across the globe. Ms. Riyas has travelled widely in Europe, Far East, West Asia, India, and Australia, learning distinct styles of painting from street painters in London, Paris, Florence, Venice, and Switzerland.

Be it a rain-soaked road in Istanbul with a tram arriving, or the surreal pink woods of Australia, the play of colours and light are prominent. The importance of light is better presented in the paintings ‘Birch Forest,’ ‘Alone,’ and ‘Dipped Forest.’

One of the most notable of her paintings is an oil-on-canvas rendition of a typical Venetian canal.

A winner of many a State-level painting competition during her school days, Ms. Riyas recently graduated from watercolour to oil and acrylic. The knife technique that she uses in her works gives them an impressionist feel. On the other hand, her life-like still life works are clearly inspired by Michelangelo.

This computer science graduate is a trained graphic designer, but now an artist through and through, working with renowned interior designers in West Asia. There are around 20 paintings on show at the exhibition which concludes on April 4.