Shola Carletti, an Italian based in Pune comes to Mumbai to showcase her art. Article by Archana Iyer, published in DNA on 4th January 2016.
It was a slow afternoon in Jehangir Art Gallery at Kala Ghoda. Art lovers, students casually strolling, studying every piece of art displayed in the various galleries inside. It was in gallery number three that an Italian lady had created an island for herself right in the middle of her display. A couch, printed cushions, a few chairs and a table with black boxes. Surrounding her were her paintings with an edge to them. Or to be more precise, there was depth, texture and an unusual shine to it. As curious visitors asked her what it was, she revealed it was a mix of various chemicals and varnish. Varnish? Who would have thought I wondered to myself. As I move into her little island to know more about her work, a lot of people start coming in. And as we started to converse, she received an equal number of questions and appreciations by everyone who came in for her unique technique…
You came to India from Italy and settled in Pune…
I was working as a graphic designer in Italy when one of my friends said that a group of them were going to go to India. It was 20 years ago, and I was like ‘India, really?!’ But then, I came across Osho and I wanted to visit his ashram in Pune. So that’s how I first came to India. My experience at the ashram was life changing and I decided to stay longer. There was a phase when I was living in India for six months and in another country for six months.
But it was only when Osho had said you have to get out to the real world as well, did I realise that I had to take a serious look at my priorities. So far I was living in the ashram. I wanted to be an artist and had studied art as a student. It was something that I wanted to do and had done a bit in the past as well. But the kind of paintings I made needed permanent fixture; I work horizontally, meaning the canvas would be on the floor. Hence, I got a house in Pune by a river and even two dogs. Initially, I wanted to be in New York but after I came to India, I contemplated coming to Mumbai or Delhi, but I realized there were a lot of distractions and I needed a place where I could concentrate better. Pune just happened to be the kind of place I was looking for, you can say it was more like my kind of city.
From a graphic designer to being an artist must have been a tough decision.
Yes, it was tough in many ways. After I came to India, I was working for Osho’s magazine for about 12 years as a graphic designer and though our team was spread all over the world, we were very close to each other. So to pull myself out of that was really tough.
Also, when I decided to be an artist, I already had a website as a graphic designer. There was a phase when I was a graphic designer as well as an artist. I started out small to see if I got a good response. So I put it up on my website, and it served as a good mirror. I can’t be a graphic designer as well as a painter, I can’t do justice to either. That’s when I decided I will completely concentrate on being a painter. And when I actually quit, I had no more excuses to not concentrate on painting.
Does your background in graphic design influence your decisions in art?
Yes, to a great extent. If you see the cushion covers and the scarves (she pulls out the black box that I was talking about earlier) you will see that they all have my paintings printed. Now coming from Italy, I am fashion conscious and also knowing graphic design allows me to manipulate my paintings digitally so they can be printed on fabric the way I want. I have complete control over it. Plus, I come up with my own logo, decide on the packaging etc.
Tell us about your current exhibit.
It is titled ‘Metamorphosis’ and that means layers. If you see there is a lot of variation in my paintings; some are really colourful and vibrant while others are subtle. All of them have a mixture of different mediums like colour, varnish and various chemicals that help create depth, form different patterns and textures. But all of them have a lot of gold, I believe it is a divine and scared colour. I have used gold foils or liquid with gold pigments in my work.
Shola’s first solo show at Jehangir Art Gallery ends on 4th January 2016, after which she will be exhibiting at Art and Soul in Worli.
Photo slideshow added by Osho News
See some of Shola’s artwork on Osho News