THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT
So far better knownwn for her affluence and beingng an irresistible fashionista, Michelleelle Poonawalla, now shows us herr other side, that of an immensely talented artist with a philanthropicpic heart
Fashionista Michelle Poonawalla has many colours in her style as well as her personality. Payal Mehta explores
Being the granddaughter of renowned architect-artist Late Jehangir Vazifdar,azifdar, who gave the city of Mumbaiai some of its most famous structures such as the Breach Candy Apartments, Cuffe Castle and Washington House, and the wife of Pune-based billionairenaire businessman, Yohan Poonawalla, Michelle Poonawalla must feel a lot of pressure to live up to everyone’s expectationsions to excel as an artist. “I like to livee for myself. I excel
because I like to excel and I have always excelled since childhood,” she avers, nonchalantly. Michelle has been into art from a very young age. She was an A grade student of Art and is also an Honours graduate in Interior Design. And, having a visionary like Vazifdar as her grandfather seemed to prove a great boost for her. “I grew up seeing my grandfather sketch— his quick black and white sketches in his office. I would come straight from school and he would ask me to pick my favourites of the day,” she reminisces. Michelle further talks about his beliefs that helped her, ‘“An artist is not only meant to paint what he sees, but to evolve emotions much deeper
than that. Art should always be intelligent and clever,’ he would say. He had many theories that he would write about, like his colour alphabet and his straight line theory. He even invented his own colour dictionary, where every colour was to show a different emotion or character.” Vazifdar had a special technique called ‘fake proof art’ which he only shared with his beloved granddaughter, Michelle. After his demise, Michelle, along with her father, unveiled a book on her grandfather and that’s when she decided to take up art professionally. We ask her if she could share this secret of fraud proof paintings that only she is privy to. “A picture/subject is drawn, oil paint is applied using a knife or from a tube, the painting is totally mixed up and at one point, all you see is a grey canvas. Then, a ruler is used to scrape off the image below. The secret is to get a well formed image below, which can never be re-created or copied exactly the same way, therefore the name ‘fake proof’,” she generously gives us the details. We wonder what her creative process is like, what inspires this elegant lady to create a beautiful piece of artwork, to which she responds, “Normally, before I do a piece, what I want to create next comes to me and only then I set out on my canvas. After I have studied the idea in my head and decided my direction, I like my art to be positive with movement and a strong design sense. Sources of inspiration are all around in all fields, be it art, architecture, a sculpture, but it’s all about what you have grown up seeing, continue to see and what makes the person.” Her butterfly work and butterflies have become Michelle’s signature style. She also
enjoys painting with a palette knife and uses the ruler technique in some of her work. A strong belief in what you want to create and also a clear vision is what this beautiful artist believes is the key element in creating a good piece of art. The woman of few words has been invited to be a part of The Elephant Parade project with the Prince of Wales Charity, a public art event, aiming to generate necessary funds to secure 101 elephant corridors across India for the endangered Asian elephant. It will take place across Jaipur, Delhi and Mumbai this year. Michelle has also been a jury member for the Retail Jeweller India Awards since the last four years and is a Gold Patron of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, a one of a kind international exhibition of contemporary art held in Kochi, Kerala. Further, Michelle took up her love for art and philanthropy by a notch by taking part in the prestigious art auction helmed by Kapil Dev, titled, Khushii- India On Canvas, in Delhi. Considered as one of India’s most well-known charity fundraisers and the largest charity art auction in Asia, it was conducted by the renowned auction house, Sotheby’s, and showcased the biggest of names in the world of art. We ask her about the butterfly creation that was displayed at the auction. “When Khushii asked me to create a butterfly piece for them in association with Kapil Dev, it gave me great pleasure to make a piece of art with a former captain and a cricketing legend of India. The art piece was called ‘Victory Head’ which showed the butterflies leading strongly out of the canvas, just as Kapil Dev led India to many great victories. It was a black and white 3D piece. The butterflies flew off the canvas and it was a very strong, positive piece—just like Kapil Dev,” she smiles. Through such projects, Michelle also gets to fulfill her philanthropic goals, “To give back to our society is something we always encourage as a family. I remember, as a young child, my brother and I would gift our toys, along with milk and biscuits, to little children every year. Charity is ongoing for us and it is something that we strongly believe in,” she concludes.