When the country was still reeling under the influence of the partition,Rini Dhumal was a young girl and was drawn towards the widows in her grandparents home in Itakumari,now in Bangladesh. Dhumal obserevd the way they were dressed up always draped in white saris and barred from attending rituals and wedding ceremonies. Dhumal,who is now a Baroda-based artist,has created paintings of women adorned in bright sarees and golden jewellery,ready with their weapons to fight the world. All these works,which are a part of the exhibition The Japanese Wife and Other Tales,pay an ode to these widows,bringing alive their lost dreams of being queens in their next life.
With more than 35 works on display,Dhumals painting titled Homage to Rituparno Ghosh,pays a tribute to Ghosh for essaying the role of a choreographer struggling with his gender identity in Chitrangada. The painting is smeared in shades of orange,where a figure with a shaved head can be seen with a bindi on the forehead,standing tall with glittering golden jewellery and draped in a bright orange sari. The other inspiration was Rabindranath Tagores dance drama from 1892 ,where Chitrangada is the only child of the king of Manipura,who wished for a son. He trained her to fight like a king with bows and arrows and she dresses like a man until she falls in love with Arjuna and wants to feel like a woman, says the printmaker and painter.
Her painting,The Japanese Wife Part 2,which shows kites flying over the canvas,is a tribute to Aparna Sens film The Japanese Wife where a Japanese girl falls in love with a Bengali schoolteacher merely by an exchange of letters.
Though Dhumal is over 65 years of age,her passion for painting has not dwindled even after all these years. An artist never retires. Painting is just like food; it is essential for artists, she says while talking about her comeback solo exhibition after seven years.
The exhibition is on display till November 12 at Art Alive Gallery,S 221,Panchsheel Park