A tribute to India’s brave daughters

Chennai-based artist Swarnalatha visited the Capital last December in the hope that she would have an enjoyable winter vacation. Instead, she was taken aback by the news of the brutal gang-rape of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student and devoted the next four months making a series of paintings dedicated to this braveheart.

Aptly titled “Nirbhaya”, a six-day exhibition reflecting the nation-wide sympathy for the young girl will be held at India Habitat Centre here beginning May 19. The paintings have been a sort of catharsis for the artist, who wants to prevent all forms of violence against women.

“My heart goes out to that innocent girl who had gone out with her male friend to watch Life of Pi . She faced a nightmarish experience after boarding a chartered bus. She was not only gang-raped but also brutalised. Though she was a brave girl who wanted to live, she succumbed to her injuries while undergoing medical treatment in Singapore. It was such a barbaric incident that I could not sleep peacefully for weeks.”

Apart from Nirbhaya, the series is also dedicated to acid victims of Tamil Nadu – Vinodhini and Vidhya – and to all women martyrs who have been acknowledged worldwide for their bravery.

The artist was an active participant in the massive public agitation in the heart of the Capital last December. “I was an active participant in the agitations led by women organisations. The purpose behind this exhibition is to create awareness on this issue. We cannot remain oblivious to incidents of criminal assault. It is not a commercial venture and none of the 35 paintings and six sculptures are for sale.”

In one of her works, Swarnalatha depicts the lamentable situation of a woman who is trying to wriggle out of the clutches of the mass media. The artist also highlights that a woman’s greatest ornament is her dignity. She carries it with grace and supports her male companion with aplomb.

A self-taught artist, Swarnalatha’s lively and meaningful paintings demonstrate a unique blend of multiple media and artistic transitions.

An ardent admirer of Raja Ravi Varma, Swarnalatha runs an art gallery in Chennai. Apart from creating works of art on issues plaguing society, she intends to resuscitate traditional Indian art and enhance its aesthetic appeal by using divergent mediums.

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