Her grandfather designed and constructed some of Bombay’s (now Mumbai) most iconic structures like Tata Memorial Hospital, Breach Candy Apartments, Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan and was instrumental in putting Cuffe Parade on the map of India’s Financial Capital. Little wonder then that art has been a part of her life since childhood days. As she says, “I’ve always painted and expressed myself through art.”
A graduate in interior design and arts from London’s American College, artist-businesswoman-philanthropist MICHELLE POONAWALLA spent her early days between India and the UK. Even today, she lives and works between Pune and London. Michelle has, time and again, experimented with technology and techniques in her works. In a conversation with SAURABH TANKHA, the director of Poonawalla Group of Engineering Companies, talks about her upcoming show, thought behind choosing colours, perfecting technology in her artworks, life and more…
Tell us more about your next show, Textures And Layers.
The exhibition celebrates the galleries’ return to physical shows and presents works that carry a strong presence and explore what it means to physically engage with an artwork. Within this context, I’ll present six works that evolve beyond a traditional 2D painting incorporating sculptural elements which bring themselves off the canvas and into the viewer’s space.
You have begun exploring work with shorter digital format films. Tell us more about it.
I’ve always been interested in combining cutting-edge technology and traditional artistic forms. For me, films are like an extension of my painting. I’ve recently been exploring work with shorter digital format films. For example, my 3:36 minute film, Circle of Life, addresses the idea of memory and was exhibited at the 7th Mediations Biennale in Poland. I’ve also produced a series of videos which address climate issues and water shortages.
Technology allows me to create larger scale interactive installations using mapped projections and motion sensor technology which I could never have created without engaging with new technologies
How and when did the idea of introducing technology to your paintings strike you and how did you go about perfecting it?
I think it is important to explore as many different areas and practices as possible through art. Technology compliments my art perfectly and allows me to create larger scale interactive installations using mapped projections and motion sensor technology which I could never have created without engaging with new technologies.
How do you select your colours? What is the thought when you are choosing them? And is any colour related with a particular emotion?
The colours depend on the theme and mood of the painting – what I’m trying to express. For example works like Colours of Life and Indian Summer project bright colourful and positive visions.
When was the first time you felt the urge to express yourself through painting…
From a very early age when I was a young girl. I have always painted and expressed myself through art.
Who has been the most inspirational person in your life and why?
My family. I was first influenced by my late grandfather, renowned architect and an artist, Jehangir Vazifdar.
Your favourite artist/ painter today?
There are many, but I love the works of Picasso, Miro, Jeff Koons, I also enjoy street artists like Banksy and of course, I also greatly admire and love the work of Indian masters like Souza, Raza and Husain.
Your opinion of the increasing number of art fairs being organised across the country, pre-Covid-19. Would these help artists reach out to the masses?
I think any opportunity for people to see artworks and artists to show their work and create visions is positive.
Michell’s exhibition, Textures and Layers, opening December 16, 2020, runs until January 10, 2021 at Tao Art Gallery. In addition to the physical show, Tao will present a virtual walkthrough of the exhibition