Seema Kohli revisits Van Gogh

by Ekatmata Sharma
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Artist Seema Kohli interprets the great artist Van Gogh in her artworks through different mediums like sculptures, photographs and paintings.
Vincent Van Gogh once said, “I want to touch people with my art. I want them to say ‘he feels deeply, he feels tenderly’.” Contemporary artist Seema Kohli’s art resonates with what the legendary artist of all times once qouted. When she got an occasion to interpret Van Gogh in her own way, she magnificently inferred it in her own works. Seema Kohli will be showcasing in the group show “Revisiting Vangough”, conceptualised and curated by Rekha Modi presented by India International Center. The participating artists Mahbubur Rahman and Tyeba Lipi will also be showcasing their own interpretations of Van Gogh.
Seema Kohli shares her journey into the world of Van Gogh, “All three of us with Rekha revisited Van Gogh. We went to whole of Europe on the Van Gogh trail, visited various studios where Van Gogh stayed, where he was hospitalized, the various museums which were created for him and also various shows that were exhibited on his 125th birth anniversary. All of us worked on Van Gogh’s theme, making it our theme.”
She has interpret Van Gogh in her six art works through her heart, mind, brush and lens in different media of painting, fiber sculpture, sculptural painting and a photo story.“I had thought I will do only one or two works in total. But I landed up doing six works and still want to do more.  Two photographic stories were created during my visit to Van Gogh’s café. ‘Photo Story of Café’ is my interpretation of his painting café. The photograph shows what the café would look like if done by me.  The other photo story is about ‘Potato Eaters’,” Kohli tells about her photographic works.
“I worked on the concept of how I see Van Gogh and how it worked on me. The first thing that caught my eye me was his ear. Earlier it was said that he cut it himself, but later it was revealed that it was artist Paul Gauguin who cut it in a fight with him. I made seven feet tall installation ‘The Ear’ with fiberglass and acrylic colour on it. Then, I did two fiberglass sculptures of Van Gogh each two and half feet. One is titled ‘Almond Tree’, based on his painting called ‘Almond Tree’. Another sculpture is titled ‘Sunflower’ based on Gogh’s ‘Sunflower’ and ‘Starry Night’. The last work is a 6×4 painting titled ‘Sunflowers’ in acrylic and inks on canvas with 24ct gold and silver leaf. This painting’s first layer is Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ and on top of it I have painted my art work,” shares Kohli, who has been working on the Van Gogh project since three years.
It’s the fascination for the artist that made her create these marvelous pieces of art. “Van Gogh was the only western artist who really fascinated me. Picasso never interested me, as much as Van Gogh or Amedeo Modigliani. More than the works I think their lives were so interesting. Everybody said about Van Gogh that he was half mad, lunatic, drunkard etc. But, the kind of paintings he made showed what he was inside. He was peaceful inside. The disturbance was only the outer thing. I grew up listening to his stories. It was a great thing for me to work on Van Gogh. My own subjects are always there to work on. But when I work outside my subjects on a curated show, it helps me break away and enter a more challenging zone. You become complacent doing your own subject. It’s so easy doing what you have been doing. So, whenever I get these kinds of curated shows, I get involved in them. These works refresh me and I come back to my table with fresh ideas,” concludes Kohli.
Dates – February 12th to 18th, 2018
Time – 11am to 7pm
Venue – India International Centre, 40, Max Mueller Marg, New Delhi

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