Diana Joseph uses the simplest of the brushes: the humble digits of her palm to create images of adorably cute wild animals: Nuzzling antelopes, snuggling Casanova wolves and lions in the series of art works titled Manimal.
While the images, currently on display at David Hall in Fort Kochi, are not themselves anthropomorphized, the accompanying text brings out the kitschy philosophy behind her exploration—of learning from the immense book of nature and finding similarities between human emotions and behavioral traits of animals.
Below the image of a deer, drawn from mythology of Narcissus, Diana writes: “What we focus on expands. To lose something is an illusion. Everything we own is just a reflection. You cannot lose something which is not yours. You trust your thirst?”
In another note Diana makes her ‘manifesto’ clear: “People tell me art should make a political statement. My art is void of all. Art should also be for the simple joy of the soul. Animals make for meaningful art.” Art for her is a medium to satiate the incorporeal essence of being. Art that exists for life’s sake.
Diana uses the technique of finger impasto, which has a satisfying immediacy to it. One that allows the artist to balance the content brought to life on canvas with the process—a tactile erotica. “I mix colours on the canvas directly from the tubes and use my whole hands while painting,” says Diana, who finds it hard to hold paint brushes or do finer work on canvas because of a health condition.
Impasto is Italian for ‘dough’ or ‘mixture’ and used to describe a technique wherein thick paint is laid on the canvas in an amount that makes it look like a relief, thereby enhancing the perceptibility of its texture and propensity to reflect light.
One of the founder directors of Fourth Wave Foundation, an NGO that works to empower youth in the fight against substance abuse, Diana says she is a self-taught artist who finds time for art between her scheduled work hours. During her school years, she was sought after by her friends because of the painterly skills—composition, perspective, a sense of colour and knowledge of anatomy. That Diana was ambidextrous was another blessing.
“I have not gone out into the wild. But every time you read, you find a lot of connect between humans and animals. There is so much for humans to learn from animals. But we don’t do that anymore,” says Diana, who uses photographs by friends who work in the conservation sector as reference material.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.