Meet Todo Paintal from New Delhi. I did, and only a week ago at her solo opening, and I felt my holiday to India seemed blessed already. Amazed, at the prolific surge of creativity India represents through her artists time after time, it is what art lovers look for in the plethora of colors and perspectives that India churns out with such ferocity and force displayed in galleries, walls, pillars, and the endless spaces in between. Walking into Todo's gallery, my senses started to sniff out a divine artist. Todo Paintal's paintings on the walls were hung with an elegance defined in storylines and colors steeped in rainbows beyond. As I moved on from wall to wall, I was struck by the thought that this was the artist's first solo representation of her soul strokes as a task given by the course she was taking to complete four years and graduate. At just turned 79 years, Todo Paintal, in my mind could, perhaps, be amongst the few that compels us to rethink how far the strokes of the brush can caress one's emotions. Mine were both shaken and stirred!
The first thing that strikes is Paintal's extensive perspectives of color theory, innate sense of rhythm, and compositional elements to each of her paintings although, at first glance, Paintal's lyrical style may recall personal 'symbolism' of her contemporary artistic vocabulary imbued with life-affirming metaphorical imagery. Simply spoken, with 79 years to her tenure in life, Todo, speaks her language in her colors in what she sees of her world and the images she creates for the world to see. Her color palette is overflowing and innovative but not complex. She does not mix ten colors to create a new light. The artist explores the unlimited potential of tonal scales with color to enhance her visual planes and volume. Viewing her art is an exciting kinetic experience, where she defies spatial limitations extending her color patterns to advance and recede, undulate and coalesce. Should I stamp it by saying her images are visual poetry? Absolutely yes!
From this point, I shall refer to the artist with her first name, Todo. It gives you a sense of 'to do' her art her way, which she does so colorfully. Speaking of visual poetry with a new expansive and compelling perspective, here is why Todo picks this piece as a favorite and why? Take a good look and why it's aptly titled "In Virtual Engagement with Time." Todo explains that growing up around nature in Dalhousie draws her inner being to further process nature's colors. It is her image of spirituality in bloom. Much of the described artistic phrases and as said above, comes to fruition in this piece alone.
Post the marriage era with her distinguished Colonel husband and stationed in over 25 moves around the country, Todo, began her journey in discovering her natural talent for painting as she continued to teach at Montessori levels and wait for her beloved husband to return to her from warring India and other boundaries. She raised three girls along with the powerful intuitive approach to creativity as the years went by. Her interplay with colors and rhythms, nature and love for family led to encompassing vast sensibilities and elements of nature, feelings, and desires as she visualized them in color. The viewer can truly feel its visceral impact and visual language. For a 79-year-old graduating artist, Todo has arrived on her platform, all in good time.
I am taking a review moment to absorb this piece of the mountains. It was my favorite in the gallery. It is blissfully rich in its expanse of color merges. This solo exhibition (ended September 20th) was a study task given by the institution from Todo's graduating school, 'The Delhi Collage of Art', where the artists can choose their topics, perspectives, and form as best acknowledges their images. While I gawked at this piece, my hand jingled my pockets to see if I could make a bid on it and I fell sadly shortened. It was at this point precisely that Todo pointed me to her favorite saying, and I quote, "Take on every opportunity. Take the bull by the horns. You never know what's around the corner. It could be everything, and it could be nothing. You keep putting one foot in front of the other, and then one day you look back, and you've climbed a mountain." - Tom Hiddleston. Todo has climbed hers. The painting sold almost as quickly as my hopes of buying it. I have carried its image home where my heart is.
Taking inspiration from Anjolie Ela Menon, V Ramesh, and Paramjit, Todo, achieves a myriad of palpable textures and moods with every confident brush stroke. Using watercolors to oils, I asked if she had a tool she could not live without (and there was more than one), and she promptly proclaimed, "Oh yes, tools it is! My pencil, my brush, my palette knife, and, of course, my artisan attitude!" This attitude showed itself clearly in the early years of her emerging talent with these two pieces displayed below that, in my opinion, embody a strong feeling and connection to its energy and diversity.
Terry Barrett's analysis (1994, Criticizing Art: Understanding the Contemporary) is where I learned that it is not the reviewer's place to be a spokesperson for the artist. I have, however, the license to interpret, as does every viewer that walks through the gallery. When I am in conversation with Todo or any artist, the answers are always alike, no matter the questions. Interpretations of the artwork, however, allow for perspectives to bloom. Interpretations can be judged by coherence, correspondence, and inclusiveness, and, of course, no single interpretation is exhaustive of the meaning of an artwork. I have tried to present Todo's work in its best rather than its weakest light. Based on originality, criteria, and evidence, it is my humble analysis that concludes the artworks of Toda Paintal, and I say, "Bring it on Life in color, stroke, and brush for all the pleasure, you are an artist and for the world, a savior."
My ode to Toda Paintal is a feeling as her work is what it is all about. A profound blend of deep engaging feelings and color.
About the Author Seema Azharuddin
In Support of the Biden Presidency
Journalist, Writer, Orator, Senior Consultant, Leadership & Communication, Actor, Producer, Activist – An Empowered Woman in quest and fight for needed causes and campaigns. She is based out of both the USA and India.