Artist To Know: Michelle Poonawalla And Her Butterfly Series

Michelle Poonawalla inherited her artistic passions from her architect grandfather, the late Jehangir Vazifdar who was also famous for his specialist oil-painting method. Now presenting her first multimedia show, curated by Swapan Seth, the artist tells the notoriously discerning art connoisseur about the inspiration behind her Butterfly series.

Swapan Seth: You have been an artist for a bit. And you have been selling your work rather steadily as well. So what made you want to do a show?

Michelle Poonawalla: To be a successful artist, one must do a show. And for the world, or let’s say a wider world to appreciate my art, I must get it out and show case it. The show could have come at any time, even earlier, and I would have gotten publicity, but the show is not about me. It’s about the art. And if I did a show, I wanted it to be done seriously. And taken seriously.

SS: I am curious. Why me as the curator?

MP: I wanted someone open-minded. Who looks at my art for the art. Not brand me because I come from a different background to some artists. The curator and the artist have to believe in the same thing. And be on the same page. We both believe in the art.

SS: Okay, we started with paintings being the spine of the show. But now it has spiralled into video mapping, motion sensors. How did that happen?

MP: When I was in London, I’d seen a show at Saatchi which had video screens with images. They were static images. But it was technology with art, and then you, on one of your travels, also saw some digital art. And we decided I must do something with technology. At first the static video images didn’t appeal to me much. When I looked further into the subject, I found that video mapping could work with my art. I could make my butterflies fly out of my painting. The scope was immense. And this I have never seen. The butterflies can also be responsive to motion sensors, in some cases, where if someone goes close, they will fly away. This made my vision even more mystical, magical and dreamy.

SS: What is the response you seek from the show?

MP: I want people to experience the art. What you see in a photograph is never what it actually is. My art is 3D. I want people to be amazed. To feel good. And wowed.

SS: You have always danced to your own tune when it comes to art. But the art world requires you to toe the line. Your views?

MP: You got to do what you got to do. I am determined, I know what I am doing, and it is my wish and determination to succeed. I will let the art speak. And there will be some who believe in my art. And believe in me.

SS: And where do you go from here? While the butterfly turn into something new or will you stick to them?

MP: I have another technique, which is extremely unique — oil painting using my ruler technique. I would most definitely like it to be international. And I’m not someone who will limit myself.

SS: Last question- any butterflies in your stomach?

MP: I have butterflies in my stomach, out of excitement, because I want the world to experience my art, not because I’m scared.

Catch Michelle Poonawalla’s debut show ‘what if you fly?’ from Feb1 – Feb 8, at Vis A Vis India, Chattarpur, New Delhi

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