Known for her romantic novel The Recession Groom, Vani Kaushal forayed into a whole new territory when she started writing about the works of Elizabeth ‘Lizo’ Shahenian, an award-winning Armenian-American artist. Kaushal’s latest, her first non-fiction, Flowers Forever is about the art and the artistic journey of Shahenian.
A casual correspondence led to Lizo asking Kaushal to review her paintings for a book. “I was not sure if I could do it. I was not in tune with the American art scene,” says Kaushal. She took the opportunity nevertheless, and went to live with Lizo for a week in Los Angeles in March last year.
“At first Lizo was a student of classical art, but later she tried her hand at different genres such as landscapes and flowers. She explored many styles, like impressionism and abstractionism, to finally develop her own. There is a freshness in her paintings. They are both unique and vibrant,” says Kaushal. Lizo, indeed, is different because she uses only her fingers and knifes to make her paintings. “Her paintings symbolise joy, love, harmony and peace. They resonate with everyone in the world,” she adds.
In the book, Kaushal describes Lizo’s painting Koi Habitat 33, for which she went to Monet Garden in Giverny, north-west of Paris.
“Elizabeth presents an interesting aspect of this garden, but what adds a touch of surrealism to her painting is a clump of cherry and acacia trees in the background, their canopy reflected in the waters of the large water lily pond. The weeping willows look fascinating in their autumn glory. Elizabeth also throws in a blaze of stimulating colours — the whites for the daisies, the yellows for the chrysanthemums, the purples for the irises — that serve to balance the greens and the blues of the pond,” writes Kaushal.
The author describes her experience as being both “surreal and scary”. Surreal because she was “in awe of her”. “Lizo is incredible as a human being. I could always reach out to her. It is hard to believe that someone of her calibre could be so humble,” says Kaushal. Scary because it was a big jump from her previous works. She had never written a non-fiction before, and she was unfamiliar with the American art scene. She also broke her laptop when she visited Lizo in Los Angeles, so had to write the whole manuscript in longhand. “Lizo gave me the confidence, laptop or not,” adds Kaushal. The book is published by World Wide Art Books and was recently launched in Los Angeles, US.