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Art is an expression beyond reality - Anita Merchant, a born artist

Deepika Nambiar Sunday, June 26, 2022
Art is an expression beyond reality - Anita Merchant, a born artist

Art is an expression of that creativity which transcends the material realm. The birth of art requires boundless imagination which elevates the artist to a state of complete focus and through that single-pointed equanimity, the artist may experience unity with the art being created, i.e. a state of oneness which is otherwise termed as Yoga in its truest form. “The true essence of spirituality is what I feel when I am painting, and to me it is meditation”, says Anita Merchant, the born artist who has been channeling creativity onto layers of canvas displayed in her surreal home in Kuwait.

Anita Mohammed Merchant

Anita Mohammed Merchant

Anita Merchant is a born artist with a passion for painting since the early age of five. Anita expresses herself through her paintings, with a focus on the aspects of divinity as well as womanpower. With a natural inclination to the colour blue which depicts calmness and serenity, her paintings are often seen as a sign of harmony and humanity. "My passion for painting started when I was five years old. During my childhood days, I started doing drawings, embroideries etc., and my father always encouraged me," says the artist. Being the daughter of a diplomat, Anita had a diverse upbringing and spent her childhood in many foreign countries.

Anita's father, the Late Mr. O. P. Khanna was in the Indian Foreign Services. She was born in Stockholm and completed her schooling in Germany in German medium, and has a fluent grasp of the language till date. Anita later pursued her Masters in Zoology at Khartoum University, Sudan and further completed a second Masters in Social Work from Delhi University, Miranda House. While doing her masters in Social Work she was actively involved in doing community service in rural villages near Delhi.

Anita Mohammed Merchant

Anita Mohammed Merchant

Later in 1975 her father was posted as the Charge De Affairs at the Indian Embassy in Kuwait, where Anita also moved. Kuwait was a turning point in her artistic career, as she completed around 75 paintings within a period of four months. "Basically, unlike other countries where I stayed, I got a lot of free time in Kuwait as outdoor activities were limited here. So I could dedicate a lot of time painting," says Anita.

Her first solo painting exhibition was held at the National Art Gallery of Kuwait at the Daiya Abdulla Al Salam area in the year 1975. The exhibition was inaugurated by then Advisor to the Amir of the State of Kuwait H.E. Sheikh Abdullah Al Jaber. Then Indian Ambassador to Kuwait, Shri Axel Khan, and several other dignitaries attended the exhibition, which was impressed by a large number of art enthusiasts. Anita was the very first Indian national to conduct an art exhibition at the Kuwait National Art Gallery.

Post her father's tenure in Kuwait, Anita stayed back and pursued a job opportunity with the Air India office in Kuwait. Mr. Mahmoud Alghanim, who was the GSA of Air India at that time, commissioned her to do up the entire office in Kuwait City with her paintings, the theme of which depicts ‘unity in diversity of secular India’, and these beautiful art works adorned the office of Air India for several years. "During those days, it was not easy to get large canvases. I had to travel to Switzerland just to get high quality canvases for my paintings," Anita said. She is proud that her artwork is now a part of Air India’s collections in Mumbai.

Anita Mohammed Merchant

During that phase in Kuwait, Anita married Mr. Mohammed Merchant, who is a famous Indian businessman and currently the tycoon of the steel business in Kuwait, where they have lived since. With the constant support of her husband, Anita continued her passion for painting and did many other exhibitions. When her father was subsequently posted to Islamabad after Kuwait, Anita got an opportunity to conduct her painting exhibitions there. Her dream came true when she then did an exhibition in Sweden, the country she kept close to her heart given that she was born there. Later on she continued exhibiting her paintings in many exhibitions held here in Kuwait.

Anita Mohammed Merchant

Anita Mohammed Merchant

Anita’s paintings use calm and soothing colours, and they express spirituality, many of which are adorned by Radha and Krishna depicting transcendental love and unity. Being an animal and nature-lover, animals also find a significant place in her paintings. Being a big admirer of Buddha, we always find the 'Moksha' feelings in her paintings. One of her unique series of painting was a depiction of the works of the famous Persian poet, Omar Khayam, which adorn the beautiful walls of a famous Diwaniya in Kuwait. Her paintings are also exhibited in several dignitaries' houses in Kuwait, including that of the Late Sheikh Abdullah Al Jaber, which she gifted to him.

"If I don't paint for a while, I feel something is missing in my life," says Anita, who spends hours every day on her canvas. "I feel I have truly done something worthwhile after spending a few hours every day with my brush," she added. Anita’s life experiences and her subconscious are what are the inspirations for her work. During the 1980s she created the famous paintings ‘Cosmic Creation’ and ‘Cosmic Birth’ which were then followed by the birth of her two daughters, Maeesha and Anushka. Anita’s life, experiences, soul, creativity and expressions all come together in the form of her signature Art, which is a depiction of who she is.

Anita Mohammed Merchant

Anita Mohammed Merchant

An artist always loves to experiment with colors, creativity and her brush. Several of Anita's paintings are marvelous in the true sense of the word, many of which are made with sterling silver as well as 24-karat gold leaf. She learned the technique of painting with gold leaf, and the results are amazing. Ink painting on silk is another wonder in her gallery. As silk is highly soft and delicate, one has to choose the brush and the density of the ink very specifically, otherwise the ink spreads throughout the silk cloth. Anita had done wonders on silk cloths with her extremely careful brush.

Anita Mohammed Merchant

Anita Merchant also has a passion for designing silver. It has been over two decades since she started creating silver designs in the form of ornaments, cutlery, crockery or jewelry. Anita would make the designs on paper and gets them crafted by artisans in India. She has done several private exhibitions of her silver designs in Kuwait which were attended by the elite of Kuwait.

As the famous saying of Thomas Edison goes “Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.” The inspiration behind her works it truly a gift, but undoubtably the dedication to perfection and patience to see it through is what sets Anita apart. She often spends up to 10 hours a day painting and her intricate work often means that a single painting may take several months to complete. “I believe in giving my 100% to whatever it is that I do, especially painting”, says Anita. Her steadfast efforts and sincere dedication to whatever it is that she chooses to pursue is the secret to her success, and an inspiration to all!

Deepika
Deepika Nambiar is part of the IIK team and IWIK core team. She does regular contributions to the news portal IndiansinKuwait.com and also for Timesofindia.com.
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Rahaman Khan
Monday, July 11, 2022
Master pieces..
Congratulations Madam.

Mohan Singh
Wednesday, June 29, 2022
Outstanding
Amazing
Keep it up
My daughter is also an artist n writer loads of love blessings dear Anita

Narendra Shah.
Sunday, June 26, 2022
I have known Anita over a period of over 40 years. I am closely connected to the family. We are common friends through game of bridge. Both wife and husband are high caliber players. During my visits to her home , I had the opportunity to see Anita’s exclusive paintings. These are highly admirable and a classic mix of paints and spiritualism. Anita is an inspiration to many budding artists. My best wishes to her and the family.

Maeesha
Sunday, June 26, 2022
Beautiful article on a truly exceptional and transformational artist! Congratulations!

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