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Canvas of the soul

Meeta Deshpande

Artist Kavita Shah's paintings represent the 12 ways of worldly renunciation and attempt to show the path to nirvana

Nirvana has always been associated with attaining spirituality and fulfillment and 49-year-old artist Kavita Shah from Chennai has tried to portray nirvana through her paintings in an ongoing exhibition. Talking about painting Shah says, "I was interested in painting right from childhood and I am just following my passion." It is worth mentioning here that Shah did not receive any academic training in the field of painting but she does consider herself lucky to have A V Ilango, the world-renowned artist himself, as her teacher.

An interesting feature of Shah's paintings is that the paintings represent the Jain philosophy of life. "Jainism has always interested me, as it is all about renouncing body and worldly desires and attaining nirvana," she explains. Her paintings are oil-on-canvas and in the ongoing exhibition she has tried to depict the 12 symbolic ways of renunciation through her paintings under the theme of Nirvana. This beautiful series of paintings was inspired from a leaf suspended in mid-air. "These paintings are a combination of my passion and the study of Jainism," says the artist.

Shah has done a thorough study on Jain philosophy and Jain scriptures. Elaborating more on Jainism, Shah says, "Jainism is more of a science. It tells what is living and non-living. It teaches that in order to attain nirvana, one must curb worldly desires and be on the journey to attain the state of jiwan mukta. It even tells us how to be happy." Indeed beautiful thoughts put across through paintings. "These philosophies are not restricted to Jainism only but can be applicable to any religion," she adds.

The exhibition was inaugurated by senior artist Ravi Paranjpe, environmentalist Mohan Dharia and Surekha Shah, author of the book Johad on Saturday.

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