L’art naïf pioneer Nayanaa Kanodia’s satirical paintings presented at London’s The Brick Lane Gallery

At a glance, Nayanaa Kanodia’s artwork might look like it lacks perspective. Her paintings look almost fantastic, bringing forth scenes from our daily lives with her signature tongue-in-cheek approach. “It is very easy to show tragedy and calamity but very difficult to show satire and mirth which can be understood by the viewer,” she says.

The Mumbai-based artist’s vibrant, multi-layered paintings—recently displayed at The Brick Lane Gallery in London—merge the past with the present and defy the labels like ‘highbrow’ and ‘lowbrow’ while presenting stories that are greater than the sum of their parts.

Mixed media painting titled Diehard Picasso Fan

“I had 15 paintings on display. This was part of a bigger show titled Contemporary Paintings. Beatrice, the gallery assistant at The Brick Lane Gallery, approached me. She saw my paintings on social media,” reveals Kanodia. The displayed work covered a vast expanse of time, from the days of the British Raj to the present. “When the world that disturbs me and the world which I have an intimate understanding of are amalgamated, a new artistic dialect is created,” adds the 69-year-old artist.

The economist-turned-artist is considered a pioneer of L’art naïf—an art movement distinguished by its childlike simplicity and frankness—in India. Icons like Henri Rousseau and Frida Kahlo are well known for following this style of visual language. A lot of Kanodia’s work, previously presented at leading museums like Victoria & Albert, in fact, attempts to capture the transformation of Indian society resulting in mind-bending dichotomies.

The Selfie Moment uses oil on canvas

Her painting titled The Selfie Moment, for instance, reveals intricate patterns and details, which add to the underlying content and narration. “I have used oil paints on canvas. The colours are juxtaposed carefully to form a maximum harmonious whole,” concludes Kanodia. 

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