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Da Vinci comes to life in modern India

Inspired by da Vinci, Hindu artist explores the Last Supper theme

Madhvi Parekh, with a painting from her 'Last Supper' series Madhvi Parekh, with a painting from her 'Last Supper' series
  • Julian S. Das, Kolkata
  • India
  • February 23, 2011
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A Hindu artist, who has completed some 25 works on the Last Supper, says the inspiration behind her impressive tally came from Italian Rennaissance painter Leonardo Da Vinci.

“I was deeply inspired by Da Vinci's painting, and its detail, and wished to recreate it in an Indian context,” Madhvi Parekh, 69, said.

Da Vinci took four years to complete his one painting, but I took just three months to do all mine, she claimed.

Parekh’s works are currently on display in a February 19-28 exhibition at the chapel of Bishop’s College in Kolkata . She said she intends to stage similar exhibitions in other cities.

The artist, who hails from Gujarat, said she followed Mahatma Gandhi’s example of reading the Bible and was attracted by Jesus' story.

With no formal education in art, Parekh started painting 45 years ago, but her interest in biblical themes only started in 2006.

“Although many have done paintings about the Last Supper, I also wanted to present my interpretation of what was a significant moment in the life of Jesus,” she said.

Parekh said the paintings have given her peace and she hopes to work on two more themes: the laying of Jesus in the tomb, and the Resurrection.

She said she had seen churches alongside mosques in the Holy Land. “So the backdrop to my 'Last Supper' series were temples and mosques,” she explained.

The Seagull Foundation for the Arts in Kolkata,  with whom Parekh has had close links for the past 30 years, helped organize the exhibition.

“We wanted the exhibition in a chapel or a church, so that people can pray and meditate with these paintings and drawings,” Naveen Kishore, a foundation member said.

Art fans seem to like the artist's work.

Parekh has “blended Christian symbols cleverly with Indian ones, which is so very innovative,” art connoisseur Kalyan Mukherjee said.

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