Home Art/Culture Italy-based artist Kammie Soni in India to help challenged children

Italy-based artist Kammie Soni in India to help challenged children

By Madhusree Chatterjee, IANS,

New Delhi : Veteran Italy-based designer-cum-abstractionist Kammie Soni, who left India over 40 years ago to pursue her passion – travel and art – is back in the country to help challenged children.

Soni, who belongs to the generation of senior artists like Kishen Khanna and Satish Gujral and is a student of doyen Biren De, has worked for international fashion houses like Valentino, Versace and Paloma Piccaso – legendary painter Pablo Picasso’s daughter.

The artist, in her 70s, shares a special friendship with Paloma, with whom she discusses her art.

Soni, whose exhibitions “My Writings in Space” opened at the Romain Rolland Gallery in Alliance Francaise here Sunday, is helping raise funds for the Society for Child Development (SFCD) through its fund-raising wing Art for Prabhat.

Art for Prabhat is an endeavour by 380 artists, sculptors and photographers to educate and rehabilitate mentally challenged adolescents.

Soni, who travelled extensively during her early years between 1962-68 before settling down in Italy, is one of the few of her generation who has stayed off figurative drawings.

Her focus for the last 46 years has been abstraction – a riot of bright colours on the canvas used in diverse forms ranging from raw solid paints as three-dimensional surfaces to uniformly-toned background.

As a result, her canvases, mostly in series representing human evolution and psychological processes, resemble swathes of brightly-coloured textiles – which pulsate with inner joy.

“I do not like figurative drawings and human faces. I also hate linear patterns and straight lines. But I love animals. I play with the colours of the cosmos, earth and nature. My art is all about spaces – no man, no barriers, no religion and no politics dictate my canvases,” Soni told IANS in an interview.

Her love for animals had also prompted Soni to work for the New York Zoo as a volunteer in the 1990s. The artist says she spend hours in the company of animals, when not painting. Soni has visited 24 countries in course of her frequent, short haul trips lasting three to four months.

“I cannot paint unless I travel. It helps me cull ideas from local cultures, mores and terrains. Travel inspires me,” she said.

Soni is a votary of individual freedom and growth, which reflect in her works like “Metamorphosis”, “Kaleidoscope”, “Conflagration” and “Surge”.

“Every human being must decide for himself. Rules and regulations are meant to guide,” she said, explaining the spatial alignments of her compositions.

Soni designs for leading fashion houses in Europe to fund her art. “An artist needs money to paint,” she said.

Her designs have also been purchased by the Garden Silk Mills in Surat.

“I enjoy working for Valentino because they give me full creative freedom. Valentino’s creations are also very feminine and graceful and they command the highest prices in the market,” said the petite artist, clad in a skirt made of a 90-year-old family fabric embroidered by her mother, also an artist.

Soni refused to comment on the trends in Indian contemporary art, but said:“I don’t like the young contemporary Indian artists. They do not know how to paint, but they definitely know how to sell.”

She is working on a new body of paintings in India and will return to Italy in February.