Deccan Chronicle

Coral Lights by Stuti Laha

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Bengal has always been known for its penchant for art and craft. Specifically Abanindranath Tagore’s Bengal School painting with its distinct mustard motifs that are simple yet depict so much more is something that stands out as far as art of this region is concerned. Bengal Art is a style of art that was deeply influenced by Chinese Painting and was introduced in India at a time when artists were trying to rebel against the heavy influence of European art in the Indian styles of painting.  In works done in the Bengal style you will notice more earthy tones of colour, slimmer figures that have marginally oriental features, delicate strokes, thin outlines and a very thin application of colour on a canvas, silk cloth or board.

Threads of life wash on cloth 16 x 17 inches by stuti laha
Threads of life wash on cloth 16 x 17 inches by stuti laha

Inspired by this very style of painting, artist Stuti Laha is bringing her show Coral Lights to Bengaluru for the very first time. Gitanjali Maini who runs gallery g the venue of the show avers, “there is something intriguing about the Bengal School of Art. Since our visitors in Bangalore have not seen much artwork done in the Bengal style, we have made the effort to not just make this show visually appealing, but also informative and educative for them.”

With friend III by stuti laha 30x20 inches wash on cloth small
With friend III by stuti laha 30×20 inches wash on cloth small

For someone who holds a day job at the Archeological Survey of India as a restorer, Laha says that the primary tone in her works it is the Coral shade. “I work with that shade, diluting it as I need to make tones duller and using it darker when I need to. All of the works have a sort of luminosity to them and so I felt the title ‘Coral Lights’ was apt. While I am constantly inspired by everyday life and what I see around me, I am particularly moved by the adivasis and their life conditions, rituals and ways of living. This is a theme that has become the main source of inspiration for my work. In all my paintings you will see that I have created scenes from the lives of these adivasis. Simple things, their daily chores like cooking, cleaning, a make-up ritual, weaving, simply doing nothing else but feeding birds, they are all inspiring scenes for me and I love to recreate them in my style,” says Laha. Her paintings, like the Chinese technique, are done on silk cloth and she uses the wash technique has been practiced for a long time now.

At afternoon wash and watercolour on cloth 11inches X 18 inches by stuti laha small
At afternoon wash and watercolour on cloth 11inches X 18 inches by stuti laha small

A wash is a visual arts technique that helps in producing a semi-transparent layer of colour. Usually only one or two colours of wash are used and this style uses a large amount of solvent with little paint. The combination of paint and solvent can make the washes brittle and fragile. However, when gum arabic water colour washes are applied to a highly absorbent surface, such as paper, the effects are long lasting. There are 19 works on display for this show and the primary theme is Adivasi life. “However there are three paintings of Botanical nature, basically water lilies, that I have added just to show the diversity of my style of work. None of the works are extremely large – the largest is around 37 x 20 inches. I don’t prefer to work on large backdrops as my subject is kind of different and doesn’t involve landscapes.” This show is a must visit to understand the unique art form that is as myriad as it is interesting.

  • What: Coral Lights – A Solo Show by Artist Stuti Laha
  • Where: gallery g, Lavelle Road, Shanthala Nagar, Ashok Nagar, Bengaluru
  • When: Until December 24, 2019 – 10 am to 7 pm daily

This story first appeared in Deccan Chronicle Bengaluru dated Dec 13, 2019 here:

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