Credits: Debarati S Sen
Nalini Mehta got her inspiration for acrylic art in 1947 when she was just in her twenties and visited a thrift store in the US. Fascinated by a decor item that looked like crystal, she discovered that it was acrylic sheet in reality. This gave her an idea to use this material to create beautiful art pieces. Now, after almost 60 years of hard work and developmental efforts she is exhibiting her products in Mumbai by the name ‘The Final Show’. Her first exhibition was at the Jehangir Art Gallery in 1966. Nalini quotes: "When I began, acrylic was new to even the US, and later, when I was back in India, I used to buy it as scrap from a bangle factory and work on it," She uses drill tapering it as a paintbrush or pencil and carves the back of the sheet then fills it with watercolour and some chemicals to make it blend well with the acrylic and then using Plaster of Paris (PoP), seals it off. She says that "The paints I use are fast and do not fade at all. The PoP prevents dust from settling into the grooves". She has mainly depicted flowers, ferns and birds in her works.
This art form is a challenge, because there is no scope of mistake. "You make one wrong scratch and you have to throw away the entire sheet because you cannot erase it in any way at all," she says. We try to fathom the tremendous amount of patience and perseverance that is required to do this work and she smiles. "Yes. It is like a sadhana," she says. Nalini's art is unique and she agrees with a merry laugh, "Yes, you are right, I have never seen anyone else do this kind of work." She brightens up her work by illuminating it from below.
Her grand daughter, Namrata Shroff says: . "I am an interior architect and I believe in usable art. I designed the clutch and also the Book Block (on display at the exhibition) along with my grandmother." This exhibition will be on till May 20, at the Gallery Art and Soul, Madhuli, Shivsagar Estate, Worli.