Arabian Nights stories on canvas

New Delhi: Bhopal-born artist Baaraan Ijlal brings to light oral tradition of fable telling exemplified by the Arabian Nights tales into narrative paintings in her maiden exposition in the capital.

A self trained artist, her paintings are part of two larger series, "Stitched Wings" and "To Be Continued," are part of the series "First Showings" meant for artists with solo exhibitions by Seven Arts Gallery. The current series also features apart from the New Delhi-based Baaraan Ijlal, artworks by New York- based Pritika Chowdhry.

Both the artists through their works speak of a need for dialogue between nations.

The exhibition titled `Retellings` brings together two artists who are based across the globe, but who use a playful and traditional vocabulary to talk about human relationships and the need for dialogue to resolve issues," says curator Deeksha Nath.

Delving into her childhood memories of circus organisers who pitched their tents near her Bhopal home, Ijlal uses the genius of a storyteller to weave fantastic tales on canvas and installations to engage the viewer with intricate compositions.

"Memories and the nostalgia that springs from them inspire me frequently. Conflict of any kind human or political provokes me and I find inspiration to paint from the desire to be the voice of the silenced people. I also take my cues from my father`s Nazms...stories, literature, music etc." she says.

From among her 30 works the artist Ijlal`s acrylic painting "Baghdad Cafe in San Francisco" transports Perizad, a mythical character from the Arabian Nights fable onto the streets in the US.

"She is attempting a dialogue across time and beyond political boundaries," says Ijlal, who has also depicted various tales on miniature cupboards. Her fellow exhibitor Chowdhury paints her stories on Pachisi board game and kites.

The almirahs in galvanised iron are similar to those still seen in Indian homes but stands much smaller at around 11 inches high.

"They are a peek into the inner world of people who occupy them. I don`t want to confine myself to any medium, canvas is a wonderful medium to work on but I`m also working on galvanised iron, a very rough medium. It has worked beautifully so far as they raise curiosity of the people and urge them to open doors," says the artist.

33-year old Ijlal currently exhibits a collection of works that have been done for over eight years in her Delhi studio.

Meanwhile Chowdhry`s works are all mostly done on kites made of differed medium such as flax paper and wax. Dyed red abaca paper inscribed with border-related terminologies like the Line of Control and Cease Fire Line.

"The Crooked Lines" is an amalgam of silk panels printed with geographical borders. "The borders are taken from political situations - India-Pakistan, Palestine-Israel,
Korea, Germany, Vietnam and so on. It makes pointed remarks at the ways in which national borders are `played` by political leaders and military personnel," says Nath.