The most striking thing about Mainaz Bano’s paintings is space. Lots and lots of it. Not the Lucknowi chikankari that keeps popping up in odd places or the Nawabi remnants of an era that seems nostalgic at best—just lots of space.
“Life is congested,” says the 27-year-old master’s graduate from Lucknow Arts College. “So many things come up in our lives that we barely have time to breathe. I want people to have a sense of peace when they look at my paintings. Space gives us an impression of peace,” she says.
Bano’s collection of 18 paintings, titled Ties that Bind, is a kitschy mix of bright colours, the Nawabi culture that Lucknow is so famous for, lots of nature and a splash of the contemporary. Her Nehru reclines against a Mughal-era cushion in his customary achkan and smokes a hookah under an over-sized fan. Her Gandhi sits under a tree reading a book on tigers. There are tigers balancing precariously on auto-rickshaws and elephants playing inside glass jars amidst chikan embroidery. In fact, the three elements are her most favourite. “I love combining nature with the contemporary and the Nawabi,” she says. And it shows. Her Krishna wears traditional clothes while riding through what is clearly a Mughal garden on a horse, while at his side, Radha is dressed in riding pants and shoes.
Nature and a warning
Born and brought up in Lucknow, Bano says it was natural that the Nawabi culture found its way into her paintings. “I grew up around it. So when the time came to paint my first collection, I thought why not use it. Since then, its elements have always been a part of my paintings,” she says.
Ties that Bind is her second solo show; her first was in February. This mixed media collection—made up of gold and silver foil, varnish, paper and paint—incorporates nature quite interestingly, too. Plants grow out of a human spine and a painted skeleton walks through a photographic jungle. “Flora and fauna are not the only things that can go extinct,” Bano says ominously.
Together, Ties that Bind took her a marathon 10 months to finish, something she hopes to replicate for her next solo show, in September 2015. “I have several ideas,” she says. “I would like to do some experimenting with the subjects I want to paint,” she adds mysteriously. “But I don’t have a clear idea yet. I think it’ll involve some Photoshop as well,” she smiles.
At Apparao Galleries, Nungambakkam, till December 27. Details: 28330726