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Scenes from the desert

Bucolic images are the highlight of Kiran Soni Gupta's works

WHEN KIRAN Soni Gupta is not engaged in administrative activities as Commissioner, Command Area Development and Colonisation in Bikaner, she is busy with her brush and paint, capturing life around her on canvas.

The IAS officer-artist is holding an exhibition of some of her works at Welcom Art Gallery, Chola Sheraton. The paintings are a reflection of the bucolic desert life in Rajasthan. Aptly titled "The Great Indian Desert", most of the oils on canvas portray human faces... young girls, old men with weathered skin, young men with cheerful smiles.

Kiran has mostly chosen warm colours of red, brown and yellow, obviously inspired by the golden sands of the desert. But the occasional black and white in "Solitude", a rather grim painting, and blue-green tones in "The Grand Old Man" provide a sense of relief.

For "Lovers", Kiran combines blue and grey and the lines of the couple are not too strong. The lines almost merge. The red turban that adorns the heads is the leitmotif of Kiran's works.

The women in Kiran's world are typical in brightly clad costumes with chunky, ethnic jewellery. But their place in society is clear — in the kitchen.

If "Grind of Life" shows a woman working against a stark backdrop, "Way to A Man's Heart" shows a woman making rotis while the man eats. "Mother and Child" (a woman carrying a child with a sickle in hand) is a reiteration of the same idea.

Also on display are a couple of miniatures and paintings of a fort and birds. However, one wonders why the painting of a majestic tiger is titled "The Lion King".

Besides oils, Kiran expresses her thoughts through other mediums such as stained glass and knife painting, etching, wood cuts and lithography. Her series titled "Famine" won her the National award in the All India Arts Exhibition. Not just that, she is also a writer and has contributed articles to leading English dailies.

The exhibition, which was inaugurated by the Governor of Tamil Nadu, P. S. Ramamohan Rao, is on till October 5, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.


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