BANGALORE : The world of Zena Colaco overflows with colour and detail. Her paintings sing out deep reds, sunshine yellows, greens, purples and blues. Lotus grows in abundance. White owls watch over the world of humans. Dogs and deer lounge companionably with men and women. Little rituals of living unfold amid chess squares, hinting at how life presupposes the role we have to play but none of Zena’s protagonists are burdened with foreboding. They radiate purposefulness and equanimity. Just like she does. Being speech and hearing impaired does not stand in the way of her experience of the world. Her paintings titled Sounds of Silence, were on display in Chitrakala Parishath till Sunday and spoke of her joy in every aspect of existence.
Zena’s connection with art began to solidify when as a 13-year-old, she received a box of cookies and a flash of inspiration followed. She reinterpreted the box’s cover on a sheet of paper with crayons. She shares in an email interaction, “I took art up as a hobby and later trained with another fellow artist for some months to learn colour mixing and painting. I began to find inspiration everywhere. When I travel with my dad to our coffee plantation in Chickmagalur, I get deluged with inspiration. I also love the extensive use of colour in each and every aspect of our daily lives which reflects the richness of Indian culture.”
About the elements of nature visible in all her works, she says, “Through my work, I wish to have a conversation about the importance of conserving nature. Peace can come only when nature is protected. I see a musical symphony in every aspect of nature. I also believe that everything is pre-ordained and stirs and breathes according to the laws of nature and the creator’s design.”
Shoba Pinto, her aunt, recalls her first impression of Zena’s creative spirit, “I came into the family 14 years ago and gifted her a pair of earrings and she was fascinated by the beads and wanted to learn how to make another pair. She went on to do a course in animation and fashion design. She wanted to express herself and art was never just about making a living. Her work despite her impairment is about full-bodied self-expression.”
Zena is living an independent, creatively fulfilling life today and says Shoba, “She is an open-minded person and never focusses on the less than ideal circumstances she faces. She makes one realise that most people who are supposed to be ‘normal’ have their own set of emotional and spiritual handicaps to work through. Her art shows just how evolved she is and how many barriers she has transcended.”
Zena’s work can be seen on https://www.facebook.com/zena.colaco and on http://zenacolaco.blogspot.in/