Colours in the Hills, an ongoing show of paintings in water colour, oil, gouache and acrylic, by German artist Astrid Kiehn, at India International Centre (IIC), New Delhi consists of works that are made outdoors at different locations in Himachal Pradesh. Kiehn has captured the changing colours and moods of the monsoon skies, mountains and terrain. Some works are also related to Pahari art – these have been done in oil, gouache or acrylic colours.
IIT Mandi Hostel (left) and South Campus
“The show refers to having taken along the colour box to hopefully being able to capture the changing colours and moods on a sheet of paper. Most of these are executed with water colours which allow (and also force!) one to work quickly and to capture the main aspects. The act of painting on the spot becomes a merging with the environment, the motive is not only seen, but also smelt, felt and heard. It’s a holistic affair and can have a meditative intensity,” says Kiehn, adding that subject-wise, nearly all the paintings displayed belong to Himachal Pradesh. “They show typical scenes of the hills, often with colours somewhat overemphasized and the scene simplified. But the strong and fast changing light does not allow for long painting sessions so some paintings have been further worked on in the studio,” she adds.
Blue Cloud Sweeping
A trained computer scientist and university teacher, Hamburg native Kiehn, 61, was always interested in art, colours and paintings. So along with pursuing academic courses, she kept in touch with art. She participated in art courses, enrolled in painting vacations and regularly attended exhibitions.
A chance e counter with an Indian while she was teaching at Sussex University, England catapulted her interest in India and all things Indian. For almost two decades – from 2002 to 2021 – she literally lived in India being affiliated with IIIT-Delhi and IIT Mandi as a faculty member.
Kiehn received formal training in drawing and painting at the Schwanthaler Kunstschule, Munich where she worked under the Russian artists Viktor Knack and Willi Bunkowski in 1996/97. While in India, she was associated with the Senior Sketch Club of the National Gallery of Modern Art (instructor: MK Puri) and the oil painting studio at Triveni (instructor: Sanjay Roy).
In 2016 she moved to Himachal Pradesh to work at IIT Mandi where during vacation time she roamed around to paint. At IIT Mandi she also participated in a four-week-long workshop on Pahari art (instructor: Ritu Gupta). But it is only early this year that she began working as an artist full-time.
The exhibition is on at the Annexe Art Gallery, IIC till May 25, 11am to 7pm