Dream Girls, with Indian and Persian roots.

The Child

Inspired by Rajput Master Bannu, I painted this lavish vision in the early 2000s. My style and spheres of interest have changed since that time, because being an artist is a journey. But this was an important piece of work on that journey, and I would like to share it. The child at the centre is based on my own.

Dream Girls, by Anita Chowdry

The technique, colours and sensibility of this painting have their roots in Indian and Persian painting. I have described the technical processes in my previous two posts, My Story: Learning Painting from a Rajput Master and Painting Indian Style.

Something of the sensuous eroticism of Bannu’s style pervades this painting, and something of the visionary mysticism of the late 15th and early 16th century masters of Tabriz who worked for the Turcoman Yaqub Beg, and the Safavid Shahs Ismail and Tahmasp. Contemporary Western-inspired audiences, particularly those involved in promoting and administering the arts, have until recently had a tendency to dismiss such sensibilities, confusing the imagery, ideology and technical rigour with their own perceptions of shallow romanticism.

One of the Dream Girls

The Dream Girls, their graceful forms inspired by the Buddhist frescos of Ajanta and medieval stone sculpture are like benign Apsaras – protective otherworldly feminine beings evoking joy – or Houris of the Islamic Paradise. Like Paradise, their fecund world is lush with vegetal growth and living creatures. A golden twilight pervades the entire painting. The Dream Girls and the Child are covered in gold and jewelery. It represents a visionary moment of peace, a connection with the elemental truth and beauty of the universe. In my later work I seek this through abstracted forms and mathematical concepts, but here it is expressed through stylized figurative symbolism.

The picture is large for its genre, measuring 41.5 centimetres by 31.5 centimetres, painted on archival Fabriano Artistico hotpressed cotton-paper, 300gsm. Tinted, sized and burnished, it is worked with a combination of Winsor & Newton watercolours and handmade mineral pigments, including Lapis Lazuli (the peacock’s necks, for example). And of course, though you cannot see it in these pictures, it glints with lavish quantities of burnished 24 carat Gold Pigment, made by myself.

Below are a few more details, below (they come up larger than life-size). Enjoy.

Detail of the stream, with gold-washed rocks and small creatures

Peacock against a golden sky.

Dream Girl