"Kahini Merchant (B. 1960)
""I don't have words, that is why I paint.""
Realizing that all she ever wanted to do was paint, Merchant began to accept the big modeling campaigns she was offered just so that she could afford the materials to work with like expensive canvases and pigments. Preferring to find her own way in the world of art through a trial and error method, the artist acknowledges that her earlier work was immature. However, through the process of experimenting and learning form her mistakes, Kahini has now arrived at a stage in her career where she is confident of her idiom and style. All she wanted was, ""Not have my art fall into somebody else's way of thinking what art should be - be typecast or have to unlearn pre-digested matter.""
Today Arte-Merchant's works display an introspection and understanding that was not visible in her first set of canvases. She believes that she has gotten past the most difficult hurdle she has had to face, saying, ""It is easy to fall into a trap where people are buying so you keep producing. It takes courage to experiment."" The artist's inspiration comes from wherever she may find it. In her series titled 'Messenger', she drew inspiration from Hanuman and Hindu mythology. For her paintings belonging to the recent 'Metamorphosis' series, Merchant moved away from her previous and more formal figurative work to almost breach the abstract, finding the masks and personas that people keep changing as her muse.
Most of Merchant's paintings tell tales with female protagonists, and one really wonders whether they are in any way biographical or representative of the artist's own development and experimentation in the field. Like Merchant, these protagonists have evolved since they first appeared, and today appear as self-aware, strong, magical and empowered.