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Art speech

chandigarh Updated: Nov 18, 2012 11:20 IST
Usmeet Kaur

It was at the age of three that Prabha’s parents realised that their daughter could not hear, which in turn led to her speech disability, shares Beena Shah (Prabha’s sister-in-law and interpreter), at the newly launched art boutique, Art Portfolio in Sector 9.

A spinster by choice, 65-year-old Prabha expresses through Beena’s words, “My father took this decision for me. He thought whoever marries me, will do so because of my talent, not because of who I am. He also had the fear of my art being exploited. A renowned artist from Japan approached me for marriage, but in those times there was no Skype to communicate and I couldn’t talk over the phone either; staying in touch would have been difficult. So, I
listened to my father and chose to be single.”

Talking about her oil on canvas, Prabha shares, “Whatever I have painted in the past four decades is about my association with the culture and the people of Rajasthan [being born in Jaipur].”

Prabha’s artwork is somewhat like mid-19th century photographic prints, with her paintings being engulfed in mystery, leaving the viewer’s mind to interpret the story.

Amongst the 22 works on display, Prabha points out at Deduction By Glass, and explains its story with the help of a pen and paper. “It’s a window that reveals the abstract view outside, that of a surreal landscape.”

Her disability, however, proved to be a boon, says Beena, adding, “It turned out to be an advantage for Prabha—this way she could concentrate entirely on her talent. It’s not that she doesn’t interact, she just uses her canvas and brush to do that.”

Prabha’s art was gifted to her by her Canadian teacher Bill Wheaton, who introduced her to oil on canvas at the age of 10. Later, PN Choyal from Udaipur, furthered her education in art.

Prabha has more than 25 solo exhibitions to her credit. A few years ago, Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) organised an exhibition of her paintings at The Bait Al Zubair Museum, Muscat.

Last year, her work was exhibited at the National Museum, Riyadh. She has also received a number of national and international awards—by the Commonwealth Society for the Deaf, London (1962), Rajasthan Lalit Kala Academy, Jaipur (1975) and AIFACS Award New Delhi (1985) amongst others. Prabha was also honoured by the Department of Tourism, Delhi Government, at the launch of the calendar to commemorate Common-wealth Games 2010.

Her works start at R2 lakh and go up to R3.5 lakh.

The exhibition is on till November 29.