I saw Moulin Rouge! and decided to paint Nicole Kidman: Artist Raghu Vyas | art and culture | Hindustan Times
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I saw Moulin Rouge! and decided to paint Nicole Kidman: Artist Raghu Vyas

Delhi-based artist Raghu Vyas drew inspiration from Hollywood actor Nicole Kidman’s character in Moulin Rouge! for his painting, which he wishes to gift to the actor after exhibiting it in Delhi.

art and culture Updated: Jul 18, 2017 18:59 IST
Henna Rakheja
Henna Rakheja
Hindustan Times
Artist Raghu Vyas with his painting of actor Nicole Kidman that he decided to paint after seeing Moulin Rouge!
Artist Raghu Vyas with his painting of actor Nicole Kidman that he decided to paint after seeing Moulin Rouge!

When Hollywood actor Nicole Kidman portrayed the role of a cabaret dancer and courtesan, Satine, in Moulin Rouge! (2001), she enamoured many including Delhi-based artist Raghu Vyas. “I saw the film in 2008 and it left an impression on my mind and touched my heart. I then decided to make a painting on Nicole Kidman,” says Vyas.

As an artist, Vyas felt it necessary to seek permission from the actor before painting her on the canvas. “In 2015, I got to attend Hindustan Times Leadership Summit (HTLS), where Nicole Kidman was being interviewed by author Suhel Seth. There, I asked her if I could make her painting and she was kind enough to allow me. It took me one and a half year to draw, sketch and put together my thoughts on the canvas; the way I wanted it,” says the artist, who is known for using Renaissance techniques with oil paint.

The three figures in Raghu Vyas 42X58 inches painting, titled Three Graces, represent charm, beauty and creativity.

The essence of the Renaissance paintings is evident in Vyas’ painting titled Three Graces. Vyas says, “Italian painter Raphael created Three Graces in 1504-05 and Rubens [from Germany] created The Three Graces in 1635. So this painting, dedicated to the Roman goddess Venus, has a long tradition, but in India I don’t think there’s anyone who has created it.”

The title of the painting denotes charm, beauty and creativity. The artist feels these three traits are also present in Nicole’s personality. Keeping these adjectives in mind, Vyas has created three figures of Kidman. “I remember, she said during the interview at HTLS that she feels like an angel and that her husband is a magician. So I painted the figure in the centre with the wings to represent beauty. The one on the left, in a sculpturesque pose, represents charm. And, the third one on the right playing the flute represents creativity,” he explains.

Nicole Kidman in the Hollywood movie Moulin Rouge!

Traces of his previous series on Krishna are visible in this artwork, through the crown of peacock feathers adorning the hair of the figure representing creativity. “I specifically painted the centre figure with a westernised gown so that Nicole could identify with the costume. And the addition of the flute and the peacock feather crown is an extension of my earlier works. But Krishna, here, also represents sakhi or the female friend; and the lotuses represent purity.”

“The Three Graces created by the European painters were nudes. But in our country, India, the psyche of people is very different. Yet I have retained the drama, so that it catches viewers attention and they come back to see it again and again.” — Raghu Vyas

In the works of the Renaissance painters, the female form used to be voluptuous to attract the male attention. “The Three Graces created by the European painters were nudes. But in our country India, the psyche of people is very different. Yet I have retained the drama, so that it catches the viewer attention, and they come back to see it again and again.”

The artist also wishes to send the painting to Nicole. Vyas says, “I have messaged her on Facebook that I have completed the painting. I want to exhibit it once in Delhi and then I will gift it to her.”

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