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Colours that come to life

The paintings by Sheera Betnag, displayed at Fluid Space, are not soothing to one's mind, nor are they conventionally beautiful, and they are very intriguing.


Sheera Betnag's captivating faces.

BLUE WAS the most dominant of colours of the paintings — mountains, skies, faces, trees, water, and more — displayed at Fluid Space. The colours lay there on those canvases to be taken in, but it did not fix the feeling that blue brings to a painting. There were, however, some that had special blue such as the blue bird paintings (two of them made for her brother who loves birds). One was of a bird flapping its wings and hurtling down at another bird sitting quiet and quite ignorant of the bird that's descending with such violence.

One of the larger paintings, titled Blue Castle, had for its background the colour blue, lying like a blanket, and in the centre, a ghostly castle springing from blue sand. Then there was a mask-face that had blue earrings, blue lips, bluish-green skin, and hypnotic eyes with just a hint of the eyeballs. "I used to want to bring beauty into my work, but now, I no longer feel the need or wish to," says Sheera Betnag. What shows in its stead is a fair amount of ruggedness.

The work Freezed Blue was dripping frozen white along the forehead, with white for background and blue for the face, eyes blank. The artist wanted to make the picture stand stuck in time, frozen, and unable to move. Sheera thinks that sometimes white takes away from other colours.

The Foliage Series had a lot of brown with green, blue, red, black, and zigzagging greys.

Faces, Sheera says, come to her in her mind, both colour and form together. They appear "completed" to her even before she begins with the brush and paint. The images stay in her mind till she has put them down. Except, there is no getting away from them.

Finishing her paintings leaves her "restless and in need to fill more paper and canvas with colour".

Crimson is the colour that she likes at the moment. One of the works, titled Fury, Furious was completely crimson, thinly layered, with a little black to separate the crimson earth from a crimson sky that began from the ground. Two "eruptions" from the ground, much like jagged, slim mountain edges, slightly lighter crimson made the two centres to the painting.

The work titled Rubies had dark crimson and sharp black edges. Sheera says that rubies are like congealed blood drops!

She paints with a very limited palette - a maximum of four colours, which are mixed in varying shades. This artist likes using oil on canvas best and also likes painting on paper.

The exhibition also featured miniature paintings of animals, birds, and faces on seeds that were about five centimetres in diameter. There were some pen sketches on exhibit too. Mostly line drawings with circular or spiral fillings to the figures.

Some of her more recent drawings had rougher edges, straighter lines, and stronger strokes. Sheera says it is because of what her temperament is changing into, and also the lack of want to make a thing beautiful for beauty's sake.

Two paintings of a small series, called You and Me, had impressionist colours, blank faces asking answers from silence, and figures of a man and a woman who appeared to be in conversation, walking together. Of the selection of canvases that had faces, there were paintings of an angle of Brahma with a chiselled nose, The Buddha, a red moon face that could also be seen as part of an implied whole and others.

Sheera paints everything from imagination - trees, landscapes, plants, birds, and faces. It probably is a world born, perceived, magnified and coloured by the workings of an isolated mind.

NETRA SHYAM

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