THE DAILY, AUG 28, 1994



MEET Deepti Naval, presently at the Jehangir Art Gallery at her first one-person show, with 19 large-sized paintings all in oils on canvas. Small, slender and petite, the heart throb of the silver screen, Deepti is soft-spoken and a quite person, in no way flamboyant, but then somewhat introspective also. Apart from being a competent film star, she has had a love for fine arts like paintings from her early years, inspired by her mother, herself a lover of arts.

With less time constraints, says Deepti, for the last two or three years she has been able to devote more attention to her paintings. She loves to handle the palette knife with equal ease and dexterity, while applying her thick mortar strokes to the canvas, to an impact effect, in a spirit of frenzy. For by now, having got over her initial fear of the canvas, the kora kaghaz in front of her, she now deals with her job at a frenetic pace.

Being a hard worker, by temperament, she can now complete a picture in a matter of eight hours at a stretch and produce effulgent coulours, bringing in its wake a sense of joy she encounters. As with Picasso, she too cannot say ‘films,” for you never know when a fresh spark of creativity may strike her, when she might as well treat it as one more item of challenge!

In a similar way, her love of poetry has also been one more passion in her life.

HER interest in self-potraits has resulted in her contributing a number of such items to the present gallery. Let us now concede that the human form provides a most endearing form of art. Years may pass but the speculative element around Leonardo’s Mona Lisa has remained hovering around the exhibit. In a way Deepti's portraits also provide a psychological penetration which goes way beyond the mere likeness of a person.

Which then can pose a challenge in any art to deal with, all the more so when the final result has been bereft of all the narcisstic paraphernalia. In this respect, the unbecoming, nay starkly bleak self-potrait of Durer comes to mind! In which case, can a self-potrait not be a pictorial autobiography of the person concerned? It is this respect that the present artist scores over many others of a similar ilk.

Whence the abiding interest in the lifestyle of the nuns? This could well be due to her convent education which had brought her in touch with the nuns of the institution. Perhaps as the result of her observing the spirit of self-service, their self-negation, their total dedication to their work despite any number of hurdles, have brought home to her their life of sheer austcrity and simplicity. No wonder then that while she has absorbed the fine points of their lives, she has also painted then as humble and deeply caring for the problems of the afflicted.

THE mountain scapes which the artist has exhibited on this occasion can come home to people who have savored the charms of the Rohtang Pass, when they enjoyed the journey with the warbling of the beas bellow meandering in its own way. Ii is those of us who have enjoyed the beauty of the snow-clad cliffs of these mountains who would appreciate the scenic effects all the more which the artist has captured in great details on her canvases.

For the rest, the mystery and the grandeur of the crags come alive when we see the waters cascading down the pass in a picture termed as Mistry Mountains, which will remain glued to the retina of your eyes for a long time to come.

Perhaps, the introduction of a few miniscule figures on the canvas could have conveyed a message that somewhat unlike the fate of Tanha Chand, the Rohtang Pass was not as lonely as the moon, for haven’t we known of a number of our sadhus who have heeded the call of the mountains and have retired there forever?

RT Shahani