Capital Artist – Keywan, Landscape Painter

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An afternoon with a Sainik Farms-based artist.

[Text and picture by Mayank Austen Soofi]

Keywan, a Tehran-born artist whose moody oil paintings of nature often strike a guftagu with the soul, invited me for lunch at her bungalow in Sanik Farms during the first week of March, 2009. She has been living in Delhi for the past 15 years.

The lady who would not tell me her age had just finished holding her second exhibition, New Beginning, in an art gallery in Gurgaon. She wished me to take a look at them privately.

We sat down to the job after a light Iranian meal of baked fish and pilaf. Keywan herself had cooked.

While in person Keywan looks soft and genteel, I did not see timid, passive landscapes in her 45 canvasses. The frames were a splash-splotch of visual lavishness. Nothing was tame. The seasons chatted and the elements merged into each other. Clouds drifted into the ocean. The ocean drained into the clouds. It was the full circle of nature: both being made of water.

Unlike her garden, the landscape in Keywan’s paintings is not manicured. Her’s is a wild countryside. The trees look bare, the grass seems overgrown, and in Valley (is that the stream?), the stream flows pretty violently.

When I stared harder, the furious energy, zesty movements and outdoorsy turmoil of Keywan’s strokes left behind a sensation of inner peace. The outer world did a yin-yang balance with the world within, and I was lashed by a wave of aloneness.

In a three-year-long life as a painter, Keywan’s colour choices have ranged from extremely soft to extremely powerful. In her recent work, though, I was in for shades that were positively vibrant, strong and dare-I-say dazzling. Sample the Sound of Leaf. The raw freshness of leaves virtually oozes out, thanks to the flamboyance of orange. However, when the colours got too blinding, there was a series of black and white scenes to rest eyes on.

As I was leaving, we hugged and promised to meet over coffee at Khan Market’s Cafe Turtle.