BENGALURU: An old Chinese proverb says that beauty lies in the imperfections. Artist Nidhi Aggarwal has been translating this saying into art through her work on coconut barks.
Nidhi works with slices of barks - of circular, squares shapes - from coconut trees and makes the cracks and ‘imperfections’ in a part of her art work. “These cracks should not standalone from the picture but should be a part of your picture. You just need to think how to use and make them. That can be a challenge. It gives a wonderful effect to the painting,” she says.
Every part of the coconut tree such as fruits and shells is used for different purposes but it is nice to look at how a coconut tree bark lying as a waste material can be converted to an artwork which can also be hung on a wall, Nidhi points out.
Acrylic paint works the best on coconut bark, says Nidhi, adding, “I have been experimenting with this medium for about a year. Acrylic works the best. If you use oil paint, it seeps into the cracks. It also takes lot of time to dry. Wood also soaks water colours. When you use acrylic, you can finish a piece in about three hours.” The time for each work depends on the details in the work. Geometric designs, take less time. “But if you are doing detailed work like that involved in Kerala paintings or Mughal ones, it will take time,” she adds.
She varnishes the piece before she paints them. “For the wood part, you use wood varnish and for painting, you use acrylic varnish. These paintings can last for as long as 10 to 12 years.”
Nidhi got the idea of using barks when she walked into the Mighty Paws cafe in Sarjapur road. “I saw these paintings in the cafe and got the idea and these can easily be done also hung on the walls,” she says.
Saravanan J who owns the cafe says he found coconut barks being sold on a highway while he was returning to Bengaluru from Tiruvannamalai with his family.
“I got them sliced and put them in my car. We had an idea of painting. But since the concept of cafe is wildlife, my wife and son painted some animals,”he says. Many started enquiring about the artwork and their prices. But Saravanan insists that it is not for sale as of now.
For Nidhi, her artwork is attracting customer’s interest. “A customer from Pune who had visited the cafe said she would like to to buy similar paintings.” Nidhi adds.
Saravanan’s wife Sudha, pursues painting on barks as a hobby. “I thought I could try some painting and it turned out quite well. It requires lot of patience. It is not as easy as painting on a paper. You need to be completely involved in your work when you doing it,” she says. Her son who also paints on barks did a 10-month course to study the art at the Chitrakala Parishat.