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Cultural canvases

Vincent Van Gogh once said, “Keep your love of nature, for that is the true way to understand art more and more.” This, pretty much, is the essence of Aparna Shere's artistic journey of discovery and evolution.

Globe trotting as a 'trailing spouse' means a variety of cultures to be inspired from and a wealth of time for self-improvement. Extracting from both, Aparna, a self-taught artist, has been nurturing her creativity, producing beautiful, elaborate paintings using a variety of mediums, but with a single theme - nature.

But for her first formal exhibition in the sultanate, she has chosen a different theme. For the inauguration of Mani's Cafe at Jawharat al Shatti, Shatti al Qurm on December 1, Aparna is showcasing various paintings based on cafe cultures from around the world.

Her paintings will especially focus on tea making, and the variety of brewers from India, Oman, Pakistan, Italy and other European countries. At the exhibition she will also display coffee mugs with portraits of personalities and paintings of inspirational monuments on ceramic plates.

 “This is my starting point here in the country and there are challenges ahead of me,” Aparna said. “Since Mani's Cafe serves tea from all over the world, I decided to enhance the ambience with paintings on the theme of worldwide cafes.

"I have depicted the Indian chaiwala (tea maker) preparing tea in a tapri (utensil for making tea) among others from different countries. I expect to arouse interest of coffee aficionados visiting Mani's Cafe.”

Born and educated in Maharashtra, India, Aparna said she was always mesmerised by the Indian chaiwala preparing tea at stalls in railway stations back home. She showed a framed painting of a middle aged man, wearing a contented smile, yet full of concentration, as he pours tea from a saucepan into a tiny cup with mastered precision. The detailing in Aparna's painting can never go unnoticed.

Aparna, who also runs an institute 'Brush & Canvas', conducted a workshop for 200 children from six Omani schools, early this year. Her institute conducts numerous such camps, exhibitions and painting workshops, to inspire students and amateur art lovers.

After much efforts, she set up the institute with the help of her husband to share her experiences in becoming an artist. At the National School of Muscat she recently conducted an 'acrylic on canvas' workshop, which was organised by the Taiwan Embassy.

Aparna's artistic journey began in Germany where she spent nearly three years, drawing inspirations from the European culture. She would click photographs of a subject and try to recreate it on canvas. Her favourite theme was castles, such as Neuschwanstein, Heidelberg and Trier castle among others.

“I am a realistic artist and with my brush, I worked on a painting of the Neuschwanstein castle, brick by brick. It looks more like a 3D image,” she said.

Moving to Abu Dhabi opened up a new dimension for her creativity. The deserts, the Arab culture, lifestyle and architecture dominated her paintings there.

In the six years she spent in Qatar, Aparna transformed from an amateur artist into a seasoned pro. Here she painted a New York cafe scene on a 15m public wall, and considered among her masterpieces, a 3m x 3m nature-themed mural.

In Oman, Aparna hopes to paint the country's fascinating monuments.

Ahead of her first exhibition in the sultanate, Aparna is all geared up, to embrace her creativity and produce many more stunning works of art.

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