Vinita Karim: Integrates the charm of embroidery, acrylics, and rare earth pigments

Dhaka-based artist, Vinita Karim’s paintings are driven by her travels and cross-cultural encounters

Chokita Paul Published :  09th December 2022 12:00 AM   |   Published :   |  09th December 2022 12:00 AM
Vinita Karim

Vinita Karim

It is simple to fall into a mood of quietude while studying Vinita Karim's paintings, but the fundamentals of her artwork remain shaped by landscape and history and the ways they influence the life around us. Reclining in her settee, Vinita tells us that she feels like a 'world citizen'. With a notable homage to the ancient Kalamkari hand painting style, which involves applying tamarind ink to cotton or silk fabric, Vinita’s artwork is both densely nuanced and personal. She has recently worked with talented local artisans to embellish her cityscape paintings with pieces of elaborate embroidery, lending them depth. Kalakriti will be showcasing her upcoming solo art show, Timeless, on December 11.

“Recently, I’ve started using mineral pigments,” she tells us. Unfamiliar with the concept, we were curious to know what it was. “These are powdered earth pigments like cobalt and cadmium that are based on plants, rocks and soils. Some of them have been made into synthetic also – I have found these in a beautiful shop in New York, which sources these pigments from all over the world. So, you can get the soil pigments from France, the lapis lazuli from Iran, which makes the colour ultramarine blue, and so on,” she tells us, conveying the emblem. 

Later, we understood why Vinita is a ‘world citizen’. Originally an Indian settled in Dhaka, she has travelled quite a bit across Asia, the Middle East, and Europe while working. Her landscapes are inspired by her adventures and cross-cultural encounters. Vinita has travelled widely since she was a kid and has incorporated specific facets of the cultural diversity to which she has been exposed. But her paintings of urban colonies are metaphorical. “In my art, I like to portray something permanent. This explains why my exhibition is called Timeless. Most of my work is based on my experience of living all over the world. Looking at my art, you could get reminded of certain cities – but not necessarily of the ones where I’ve been to. For you, they can be Istanbul or even Banaras,” she smiles. 

Speaking about what the visitors can expect at her forthcoming show, Vinita tells us, “This show is about my abstract art. I would say it’s a step in another direction, like transcending the cities and ports, delving more into a metaphysical and impressionistic dimension. So, when you look at them, you can see just the skies, in vermilion, for which I’ve used acrylic, gold and copper leaf on canvas.” 

Take me beyond the ocean blue: Vinita's embroidery on Dhaka muslin

Vinita is interested in experimenting with a variety of media, not just acrylics and pigments. She began by saving tree trunks when a hurricane devastated Manila, where she was residing at the time. In 2004, she carved eucalyptus and mahogany wood in the shape of eggs with the help of neighbourhood artisans. “In this exhibition, I am also showcasing some of my fibreglass egg artworks and paintings on other ‘found objects’ such as a pair of wooden lions which I saw in Chandini Chowk in Old Delhi,” she adds. Vinita’s imprint on the latter is titled His Majesties. 

His Majesties

By merging her introspection with her Indian heritage as well as her experiences living and creating art in diverse cities around the world like Cairo, Tripoli, Stockholm, Manila, Berne, Nuremberg, New York, Dhaka, and Delhi, Vinita’s art embraces diversification as well as several walks of life. She has studios both in Delhi and Dhaka, where she presently lives. 

Timeless will be displayed on December 11.
At Kalakriti Art Gallery in Banjara Hills.


Twitter: @PaulChokita