Life's fast changing moments in wood, paper and colour

Whether it’s a baarat or a small caged bird, at 81, Nisreen Moochala continues to draw inspiration from everyday moments that people fail to notice. She talks to City Express about her 40-year artistic journey

Published: 08th June 2016 03:55 AM  |   Last Updated: 08th June 2016 03:55 AM   |  A+A-


CHENNAI: A bird in a golden cage, an old man trying to catch up with a bus, a garden party that juxtaposes two scenes — hardworking cooks on the one side and the glamorous partying scene on the other; a frivolous baarat scene, were some of the intriguing art work on display by artist Nisreen Moochala at Artworld, Teynampet.

Portraying details that we often see around us, Nisreen says that all her art works are inspired by everyday life. “I observe little things around me and derive inspiration from them. For example, the bird in a cage was inspired by a caged bird I saw. I wanted it to be free!” exclaims the 81-year-old Pune-based artist.


A mix of mild and vibrant colours, planned patterns and stray textures are some of the highlights in her paintings. Nisreen started her foray in art in 1957 after completing diploma in painting and mural painting in 1958 from JJ School of Art, Mumbai.

“I didn’t know I was good nor did I have an ambition to become an artist. A teacher suggested that I take up art and I did. It has been a long journey since,” she recalls.

She started out with sketches and flat paintings and later added a new dimension to her art work — wooden boxes and three-dimensional paper figurines. “The wooden frames are like windows through which we can view people’s daily life. It also reflects the physical and psychological restriction,” she shares. “A visit to my maid’s home in Kolkata made me realise how people live in congested spaces.”

Working with paper to create figurines, Nisreen says that it involves a lot of intricate work. “It is a lot of work to make a paper figure look human. I even have to design the clothes. It is both challenging and interesting,” she explains.

Often portraying scenes that are ironical, Nisreen says that people don’t see what’s in front of their eyes. “Take the baarat scene; you’ll see a man who is walking away from all the celebrations, in the pole act scene, while everyone is enjoying the show, a child is crying and no one notices that I observe,” smiles the artist who has had solo shows in Kolkata and Mumbai.  “I had my debut show in 1960 in Calcutta. I don’t do shows often and this is my first in Chennai,” she adds as she takes us through her art work.

How often does she create new ones? “I work on new art pieces when I am inspired. Sometimes I don’t work for months and sometimes I work on four to five pieces at a time. I don’t overdo myself,” shares the recipient of Bombay State Exhibition Award (1956, 1957). “Art is something I enjoy and I like to take my own time to finish a piece.”

An artist for over four decades, Nisreen rues that art and artists in India are not given enough recognition. “Though there are many artists, recognition is lacking. We have to help, encourage and support artists,” she avers. “I find a lot of galleries that encourage artists like us, which is a good sign but people should also come forward more to support us.”

(Her works are on display till June 10 at Artworld, Teynampet. For details, call  24338691)

Stay up to date on all the latest Chennai news with The New Indian Express App. Download now


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp