It rarely happens that an artist wins all the hearts of audience with a solo piece instead of an exhibition. But Michelle Poonawalla managed to do so with such an ease and that too without using her grandfather's name. Poonawalla, the granddaughter of acclaimed architect Jehangir Vazifdar, created a piece for The Gateway School in 2016. In her piece, she showed butterflies by intertwining fantasy with possibility and promise. It was this work that wooed audiences, and among them was Swapan Seth, who is now curating the artist's first solo show 'What if you fly?'.
At her exhibition, the artist will be showcasing 20 paintings in different mediums that have been created over a period of one and a half years. Giving details about them, the artist says, “Four of them have been video-mapped, some are in black and white, and there are four sculptures which are made out of graphs. None of them are oil-painted. All of them have been created in acrylic paints.”
This show happens to be Poonawalla's first exhibition. But what makes it more special for her is the fact that viewers, for the first time, will see technology blended with art together. Highlight one such piece, she clarifies, “Cloth is distinct from the rest. In this, I have video-mapped butterflies on the wall. This appears the delicate creatures to be flattering next to the canvas. However, the picture is done in such a way that the moment someone gets closer to the canvas, it appears as if the butterflies are flying.”
Michelle has always been very experimental with her art. This clearly reflects in the different mediums that she has explored as an artist. The initial works she did were in black and white. Then she started doing most stuff on white background with black cut butterflies, and black background with white cut butterflies. But, with an urge to add a little colour to the pieces, she experimented with acrylic paint. However, she was still not satisfied and thought of reinventing the artworks in a different way. This is when she introduced mixed media by amalgamating print, acrylic paint and butterflies together. Her creative nerve also opened her doors to try some abstract pieces. All her works will become a part of the exhibition that take place at Vis a Vis Gallery in New Delhi from Feburary 1.
What is her biggest inspiration? "It is my grandfather." Why won't he be, after all she knows the secret of Vazifdar's technique of fraud-proof art that saves the painting from being copied or recreated in the same way.
“This is true. He never shared the secret of the technique of using oil paint along with a ruler with anyone. He feared that people will copy it and it will become popular. But that was until he reached his 80s. When he reached this milestone age, he realised in order to let someone carry forward the legacy, he needed to share it with someone and since I have been an artist all my life, he thought of sharing it with me. Since, he chose me and kept the secret from others, I think I should not reveal the way the technique is done,” she says.
Keeping the legacy of her grandfather alive, the artist now plans to take her grandfather's art to the next level by using the similar technique in her next show. “I am planning that in my next show, I will use ruler set paintings because it is very individualistic and one-of-a-kind show.”