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Artist Michelle Poonawalla’s latest works are a surreal decoding

Artist Michelle Poonawalla’s works are evocative of new technologies in art.

“We are born with nothing and we will return to nothing,” says Indian visual artist Michelle Poonawalla pensively, of the intricacies of her kinetic artwork titled ‘From Dust to Dust’ that had spectators enthralled at the Art.Lab held in World Art Dubai recently. A surreal decoder of the ongoing pandemic, Michelle’s creation depicts the slow and precise disintegration of a single rose before the petals metamorphosize into butterflies.

Artist Michelle Poonawalla’s works are evocative of new technologies in art

Pivoted on the universal theme of how nature humbles humanity, the artwork is a labour of love shaped carefully using a digital stop motion video technique. The contained hues of the rose, the floral artistry in the precise assembly of petals and sepals that unfurl slowly, starting from a geometric, non-cohesive cluster, showcase her keen and astute eye for detail. “Even though my artwork shows the disintegration of a rose, it was important for all individual elements composing the visual language to be inherently beautiful,” explains Michelle. “Each aspect of the rose is made up of tessellating butterflies.

The butterfly has been a consistent motif in my works, symbolic of metamorphosis and reminds me of the fragility of life, of freedom, hope and love.” Michelle’s short digital video titled ‘Circle of Life’ showcased at the Mediations Biennale in Poland, brings in a brilliant interplay of light, against a backdrop of ruddy tones and a moving butterfly. The play of light and shadows form an intrinsic part of her artworks, conveying her immersive feelings and experiences. From canvas and mixed-media to digital mapping and stop-motion technology, it is a constantly evolving realm for Michelle who divides her time between London and Pune. “As an artist, my biggest learning has been to keep growing. I constantly challenge myself to experiment with new technologies and methods — from large installations with motion sensors and projection mapping to new digital video works,” she shares. “I feel it is vital to embrace new technologies to bring in different dimensions.”

Shilpi Madan for Deccan Herald

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