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Women in the mirror

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CAPTURING THE DIFFERENT FACES OF WOMEN Pragati Chattopadhyay
CAPTURING THE DIFFERENT FACES OF WOMEN Pragati Chattopadhyay

Pragiti Chattopadhyay's collection of paintings titled ‘Reflexions' focusses mostly on women

“Women are inspiring; they are strong, intelligent, sensitive…,” says Pragiti Chattopadhyay. And this could be a reason why it's mostly women that feature in her collection of paintings titled ‘Reflexions.'

“I find the changing moods of women fascinating. Their faces or rather their expressions speak a thousand words,” adds Pragiti, whose untitled paintings speak a thousand words too. If a woman who rests her head on a vase seems to yell out ‘trophy wife,' the one with a white sari-clad woman walking through a lush field seems to suggest she is looking for someone. God?

Trained in art

Pragiti, who trained under the late well-known watercolour artist Mario Cooper in New York, has used a mix of water colours and charcoal to bring the images in her mind's eye alive. Her use of colours is also interesting. There are no splashes of every colour in the colour palette, just a handpicked few and all are carefully and cleverly blended to create elegant compositions.

Take the picture of the woman who is juxtaposed with autumn leaves, for instance. While the backdrop has been filled in shades of pale yellow, the woman has been sketched in charcoal and the leaves in purplish-red; a perfect example of colour harmony. “It is a technique I learnt from Mario. He taught us students how to choose specified colours and to play with it on the canvas. He also taught us how to use quick brush strokes on wet paper; you can see this in my paintings,” says Pragiti who adds that even as a child she was drawn towards colours and recreating what she saw around her.

“We had this red, cemented courtyard in my house in Kolkata. As a child I used to draw women with bouffant hairdos, women from the 70's, using coloured chalks,” says Pragiti, a post graduate degree holder in history who hails from Kolkata.

But it was in New York, while accompanying her husband, Dr. Anil Kumar Thekkuveetil, that she started to train as an artist. However, her creativity was put on pause when she returned to India. “I did paint, but none of them pleased me. ‘Reflexions' is a collection of my paintings in the last five years. I guess that was when the creative juices started flowing again,” says Pragiti who is settled in the city.

“My husband, a Malayali is a scientist at Sree Chitra Institute of Medical Research. We were pen friends who fell in love and got married,” says Pragiti with a smile.

According to Pragiti, her images on canvas come from the streets, sky, faces… “I put them on canvas and alter the reality a bit; I put in figments of my imagination.” The women in her paintings are also products of her mind. “I don't define any of them. They are not divided into nationalities. The emotions of women are universal and so are my paintings.”

Pragiti's collection of 15 paintings will be displayed at Art Gallery, Alliance Francaise de Trivandrum, from March 8 to 20. The exhibition is part of the institute's International Women's Day celebration.

LIZA GEORGE

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