Sixteen-year-old art student, Serena Varshini, always felt a strong connection to Frida Kahlo’s paintings. “Her paintings are a reflection of her life, and I think it’s beautiful to paint one’s reality rather than fantasy,” says Serena.
So, when an opportunity to recreate a masterpiece presented itself, she coaxed her cousin to model. She decided to recreate Kahlo’s Self Portrait Dedicated to Dr Eloesser. “I joined her eyebrows to resemble that of Frida’s and put her hair up in a braided bun. I used flowers from my garden for her hair as well. I used a jute rope for the thorn necklace and smeared some red eyeshadow on her neck,” she says.
She is one among the many students of visual art and design at Chennai-based MAISHA Studio who have been recreating masterpieces while on lockdown.
Last month, a similar challenge by Getty Museum did the rounds, as people across the world sent in recreations, which were later published on the museum’s social media pages. The trend picked up pace following posts by @tussenkunstenquarantine on Instagram that grabbed eyeballs almost instantly.
However, this project has been in the works for a long time at MAISHA Studio, says designer and artist Aishwarya Mannivanan. “Students are also going through an emotional rollercoaster at the moment. So, I have also been getting them to vent through art,” says Aishwarya. About 25 students were on board for this project. Apart from regular online courses, MAISHA Studio has also started ‘Co-Create’ Live on Instagram, a series of interactions on design and visual arts by students and experts.
For this project, students were asked to pick a masterpiece which they personally connect with — from both Indian and Western repertoire.
“Some paintings were chosen by multiple people. But, it was interesting to see how each of them interpreted it,” says Aishwarya. Among the Indian works, SL Haldankar’s Woman with the Lamp and Raja Ravi Varma’s The Maharashtrian Lady were crowd favourites. Many of them got their families involved, adds Aishwarya. “It was also encouraging to see entire families coming together to work on something.” The project was conceptualised to instil the idea of adapting — there is so much that can be created with whatever is available.
Such projects can also open the students out to art history, in a fun way. “Each of them, then gets into researching that particular artist, his/her style and background. In that sense, it’s more of a research-oriented project than a craft-based one,” says Aishwarya.
These recreations are being posted on MAISHA Studio’s Instagram page, and they are contemplating opening this project out to the public as well.
Send in your recreation of a renowned masterpiece to @maishastudio on Instagram