Artist, philanthropist and a certified fashionista, Michelle Poonawalla has made a name for herself in a short period with her experimental works in the Indian art mart.
Taking a cue from her famous grandfather, Jehangir Vazifdar, a renowned artist and architect, Michelle recently expanded her design interests into the interior space and collaborated with Italian design agency, Inkiostro Bianco, to release luxury wallpapers.
She is among the nine international artists and designers that Inkiostro Bianco picked to produce a limited edition series for its Goldenwall 2020 collection.
Each collaborator was tasked with producing two designs for this select range of metallic-base artistic wallpapers.
Poonawalla’s two designs, ‘The Flutter’ and ‘Misty Flutter’, take the silhouette of a butterfly, her signature motif, and are accentuated by modern prints on gold leaf and pink gold.
While the scale of the wallpapers allowed the artist to go beyond the canvas, the cutting-edge printing techniques from Inkiostro Bianco facilitated a smooth fusion between art and technology.
Simply put, the result is both a wallpaper and a work of art that aims to bring about an immersive experience and create a feeling of contemplative calm into the room.
Speaking of the project, Poonawalla says, “This was my first experience collaborating with a design agency and was great fun. I had met the head of Inkiostro Bianco when he came to Pune, through a friend.
"He visited my studio and liked my work and thought it would be perfect for their Goldenwall edition. It was a bit of a challenge going back and forth with designs and ideas as we entered lockdown, but I am really pleased with the final designs.”
Since her first solo exhibition ‘What If You Fly?’ in 2018, the vivid butterfly makes a prominent appearance in most of Poonawalla’s artworks.
It has been a recurring theme in her paintings and digital artwork, so to include it in her interior line wasn’t an anomaly.
“Of course, I had to incorporate my butterfly motif which is synonymous with me and my style from my very first show. To me, the butterfly can be used to depict multiple meanings. It reminds us of the fragility of life, it shows freedom, it allows and gives people a feeling of hope and love, it also can mean a metamorphosis, and each spectator takes with them a similar meaning,” she explains.
Like most artists during the lockdown, Poonawalla too has turned her creative cells to action and created some avant-garde works to reach out to a broader audience. She recently launched two limited edition digital stop motion videos on Seditionart.com that can be viewed on any screen almost like the modern-day version of a woodblock or an etching.
“The pandemic has taught all industries that going digital is the only route for the moment. My work ‘From Dust to Dust’ is titled after the phrase ‘from ashes to ashes, dust to dust’ and is a reﬂection on nature’s ability to humble humanity—an important message from Covid-19.”
The work depicts the slow and precise disintegration of a single rose before the petals metamorphose into butterflies.
The second work, ‘Mother Teresa, the eternal symbol of Love and Peace’, reflects a sign of universal peace and looks out to so many of the nurses, doctors and care workers who are helping today.
“It is a reminder that whatever one’s wealth, status, or what you have in your life, one must always remember that we are born with nothing and we will return to nothing, so one must always be humble,” she signs off.