Rajkumari Sharma Tankha
Growing up in the French countryside, Maite Delteil called herself ‘nature’s child’. So, nature has been an intrinsic part of most of her art works. But the paintings displayed at her recently concluded show, Pages From My Diary, at Art Alive Gallery, Panchsheel Park, were still life and portraits, albeit in her signature style of bright colours. These are the works that she did in 1960-70s. We caught up with the artist to know more:
Any particular reason behind showcasing works from so long back?
Life is not always a long, quiet river. Sometimes things that are unexpected happen. Three years back, the owners of the three galleries with whom I am regularly working visited me in my country house in France. There, they discovered my old paintings on the walls and in the attic, and were enamoured by them. They proposed to show them in India. I liked the idea and so, in 2018 and 2019, my drawings from the 1970s were exhibited in Mumbai and Art Alive showcased my paintings from the 1960s. These exhibitions were much appreciated, so we decided to show them again in the sullen atmosphere of Covid.
For me, doing the shows has been an enlightening experience. Through the viewers and their questions, I have seen my old works in new light. Through their eyes, I have visualised my works that have helped me understand my younger self better.
You use a lot of bright colours in your works.
Yes, bright colours define my expression, through my brush. I believe colours and their vibrancy adds life to any art.
Since 2011, you have predominantly showcased in India only. Why?
Nowadays, I am showing almost exclusively in India due to the small quantity of works I am doing and also, due to my age (I am 88), it is becoming difficult to travel. I am quite content with the situation as India has been my second homeland since my youth. I have been married to Sakti Burman for more than 64 years, so I feel at home in India.
What changes have you seen in the Indian art scene since 1960s when you first landed here?
I did my first show in Kolkata in December 1964 and in Delhi in January 1965. At that time, I felt that the general art scene was very morose with predominance of ochre, brown, and black colours. Of course, there were other painters but I didn’t have the chance to see those paintings, for instance, paintings on nature by Swaminathan or works of Manjit Bawa that I discovered later on. Now, the scene of Indian art has become very colourful, even colours in Indian textiles are rich. Our future is going to be very colourful.
An advice for upcoming artists.
Be true to yourself and work hard. Also, don’t consider yourself a genius.