We know actress Deepti Naval for her off beat roles in the Hindi Cinema. Her major contribution has been in the area of art cinema, winning critical acclaim for her sensitive and ‘close to life’ characters that emphasized the changing roles of women in India. She has donned the hats of a director, writer, painter, and photographer.
What brings Deepti Naval in focus today is her recent ‘self portrait’ of a Pregnant Nun. Everyone who sees the portrait is shocked and has been asking WHY?
Deepti says, “This is the painting that I’m very often asked questions about – ‘How and why do I see myself as a pregnant nun?’ – I painted this in the mid 90s when I was going through very conflicting times. The painting is called ‘Self Portrait As Pregnant Nun’ – it is also called ‘Contradiction’ and it happens to be my signature work.”
While everyone was shocked to hear that this is called as a ‘self portrait’ and wondered how is it reflective of Deepti’s life. Others gave those smirks and grins with the ‘nun-who-went-behind-the-bushes-and-got-herself-pregnant’ story playing in their minds. This was hurtful and hence Deepti posted a note at the exhibition beside this portrait explaining the thought process behind this sacred painting.
The 3 Ways Deepti Interprets this Painting
Deepti explains, “I was working in my garage studio at the time. A friend, nine months pregnant, walked in. I looked up and saw her leaning against the door, and I thought to myself – ‘When a woman is pregnant, she can look so pure, so untouched, almost saintly, like a nun…’. an oxymoron. I picked up a raw white canvas, squeezed out some black paint and started to draw lines with my brush.”
But this is only a surface interpretation she adds further. What really triggered the idea was, “At a deeper level, there was this conflict that I had been going through for some time now – wanting to move away from everything material, to give it all up and go into oblivion. But at the same time, I felt a strong compelling urge to embrace life all over again, to live fully. Pregnancy to me signifies the fullness of living, while nun-hood, is ‘giving up’ and moving towards the spiritual path. This terrible conflict, of wanting these two opposite things, passionately, at the same time, made me paint the Pregnant Nun.”
Deepti talks about the contradictions in our life and how this portrait signifies it. “There’s another way of looking at it. We all have contradictions. I do. I have terrible contradictions in my personality. You live with a self image – someone you like to believe you are, and then, there comes a time, when you go right ahead and destroy that image by doing something completely contrary, shocking even your own self.”
Then she speaks out and loud the real message, “Finally it is simply rebellion! Rebellion against conformity!”
Deepti Naval, you teach us to think beyond the conformity! Your paintings make us ponder and inspire us in so many ways. Keep up the good work! Stylewhack team wishes that your creativity flourishes and inspires us FOREVER!