Pandemic musings of resilience


Express News Service

Many artists took to their art to deal with the stress and uncertainty that the pandemic brought with it, and Christina Banerjee is one of them. The Delhi-based American artist has come up with a new series of works based on her experience of lockdown. Titled Isolation, her works have elephants and flowers juxtaposed against bold designs to represent intense, underlying feelings. A solo show of these works will be held in Mobile, her hometown in Alabama, US.

A Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of South Alabama, US, Banerjee majored in ceramics and holds a minor in interdisciplinary studies in painting and sculpture. She taught at different schools in the US, before getting drawn to the Indian culture and way of life in 2013, and settling here. “I began working on this series during the lockdown, as a multitude of emotions stirred inside me at the new way of living. I have tried to capture the intense feelings of dejection, frustration and sadness that I felt, as most of us did, at that time,” she says.

Artist Christina Banerjee; paintings from
her Isolation series

Elaborating further, Banerjee adds sometimes when we look at ourselves in the mirror, what stares back is not entirely you as what is going on inside does not come through — the inner feelings of fear, stress and anxiety remain hidden in the calm exterior. While the motifs appear similar, each painting in the series is different from the other.

For each, Banerjee first introspected about what she wanted to convey, then put her thoughts down on the paper and only after doing that, she would start sketching around it; the painting would happen much later. On why she chose to draw elephants, she says, “The elephants represent me, my feelings, emotions, and thoughts.

I love these giant yet gentle creatures. They have kind eyes, wise spirits, and are incredibly smart. Moreover, elephants travel and stay in herds like we humans stay in families. Again, sometimes they get away from the herd, just like we have this urge to be left alone.” The series shows a definitive line of evolution: The initial works showcase inner turmoil, the later ones depict buds, symbolising new hopes. The artist has a special love for animals, as even her ongoing series Adaptation has animals in their ever-changing habitats.

“I began it in 2015 to express my dismay at the destruction of animals’ habitats to which, sadly, everyone is a mute spectator.” A vocal advocate of initiating children into art, she advises, “Give kids a chalk and ask them to draw freely whatever comes to their mind. Encourage them to convert waste into art, and you will be amazed to see their creativity.”

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