Mehendi is a series that explores themes of Indian heritage, womanhood and art styles. It is a journey of self-discovery and appreciation for melanin-tinted skin, something I have begun to incorporate into my art lately. As a young 17 year old artist, I’ve been trying to diversify my art and explore my roots. I notice that as children, when we are taught the basics of art and painting, seldom are we taught how to draw Indian features and skin. As a result, many young artists end up white-washing their art; something I found myself doing too. Indian art is so diverse and magnificent and yet, remains a mystery to most.
This series of paintings follows brown-skinned women and their stories, and through it, my journey with our skin colour. I titled the series after ‘mehendi’ or henna. The stories I try to narrate, resemble the intricacies of mehendi designs; art that has been painted on our skin for hundreds of years.
‘Ilisha’ is a painting inspired by the name itself, which means ‘Queen of the Earth’. It depicts brown skin as a blessing of the earth; something serene, beautiful, powerful and regal.
The second piece, ‘Blue Lotus’ is one that celebrates the warmth in our skin; the sunlight that bounces off it and the history engraved in its folds. Blue lotuses are a symbol of wisdom and spiritual illumination, and thus using it in this piece was like a mark of pride and love for my heritage and history.
‘The Swan Song Of The Earth’ is inspired by Mughal miniatures, showcasing the story of the ozone layer around the world, as a decaying garment. To me, it symbolises the helplessness of women without the means to use their voice, equating it to Mother Earth herself.
My art is what helps me understand the world around me. It is something I use to comprehend my past, present and future. And I hope to use it as a medium that whispers a story to the onlooker.
By Nandini Ghosh
Nandini Ghosh is a young seventeen year old artist, from Pune. Her art is a medium for her storytelling, with which she expresses intricate concepts. She finds solace in the stars and cannot work without sunlight pouring into her room. Nandini aspires to be someone who brings positivity into the lives of those around her and dreams of a world where art is recognised for its merits; where her colourful pieces make people see the world in a palette of hues and a melange of poetry.
You can find Nandini on @nangogh