Warm and Vivid, Nanda Khiara's Mystical Art Makes You Think

Creators And Collectors

These are grand paintings with rich textures, splendid colours and deep meaning. In one, a riveting whirlpool of hot orange swirls and descends into a cool blue and a white. In another, an eye peeks at you, and you peek into it. While the former is a symbol of transition, the latter represents the multiple perceptions people have.

(Transition by Nanda Khiara)

Artist Nanda Khiara’s large canvases are enigmatic and bold. Comfortable being termed an ‘Abstract Expressionist’, she coaxes her colours into various forms – lines, smudges, mosaics, and streaks – in a way that compels your hand to move towards the canvas, wanting to touch and feel the play of paint.

(Nanda Khiara, working her magic on a canvas)

Tryst with Multiple Cultures

For Nanda, her art is a representation of her experiences living in various countries and regions. She has vivid memories of growing up in a young and busy Kuwait, which was flamboyant and conservative at the same time. “There was a certain grandeur to everything in Kuwait,” says Nanda. “These rich surroundings were a huge part of my childhood, and have transformed into the large canvases that I now choose to paint on.”

(Energy of Life by Nanda Khiara)

It was her first visit to London that was a defining moment in Nanda’s life. On a holiday with her father at the age of 14, Nanda visited the prestigious Victoria and Albert Museum, and instantly fell in love with all things art. Later, she had another “eye-opening” experience when she moved to London for her Bachelor’s Degree in Interior Design.

 (Prism Eye - Communication Through a Single Glance by Nanda Khiara)

“I went from the boundaries of Kuwaiti culture to the freedom of London,” says Nanda. “While the boundaries taught me to respect other’s values and ideologies, London changed me emotionally. I felt the impact of being equal and having a choice for the first time.”

This deep understanding of different cultures, lifestyles and perspectives is beautifully captured in her Disambiguation Series, where each painting captures, through colour and strokes, the journey within a Balanced Life, a Sunny Life and a Flamboyant Life.

(Nanda with the three paintings from her Disambiguation Series behind her)

It was also during her undergraduate studies, that Nanda first realized she may have a talent in the arts. Her colour theory professor, noticing her talent, encouraged Nanda to switch from Applied Arts to Fine Arts, but she didn’t take it seriously then. And so, it would be a while before Nanda became an artist. Back then, she chose a career in interior design, followed by marketing.

(Buddha Dreams by Nanda Khiara)

An Artist is Born in Mumbai

After moving from London to Hong Kong and quitting her career to raise her kids, Nanda was searching for a creative outlet. And it was in Mumbai, that she found her calling as an artist.

“When I moved to Mumbai, I explored many options but none were satisfying,” says Nanda. “However, the minute I picked up the palette and brush, I couldn’t put them down.”

(Quad Cities III by Nanda Khiara)

Much like her favourite artist Gerhard Richter, Nanda started fashioning her own tools and started painting in earnest. A self-confessed “junk lady”, Nanda collects anything that can help her articulate with paint.

Nanda feels that Mumbai gave birth to the artist in her, as the city is a confluence of all her past experiences. “Mumbai has everything that I had and I want,” says Nanda. “It is multicultural, energetic, close to the sea, which I love from my days in Kuwait, and I have friends and family here.”

(Quad Cities I by Nanda Khiara)

The Dharavi Slums of Mumbai deeply moved Nanda, and her series ‘Organized Chaos’ was born from this inspiration. All proceeds from this series were donated to the benefit of “The Girl Child”.

(Painting from the series titled 'Organized Chaos', inspired by the Dharavi Slums of Mumbai)

The Connection with Colour

Nanda feels that it is the colour of various places that has entered her subconscious and stayed with her. “My diverse cultural experiences have given me an understanding of which colours will be appreciated by which person,” says Nanda.

A look at her ‘Energy’ Series, and one can see how cleverly she uses different hues to bring out the spirit of different seasons.

(Spring, from the Energy Series by Nanda Khiara)

 (Winter, from the Energy Series by Nanda Khiara)

She uses a lot of primary colours, and uses secondary colours more subtly. “My favourite colour is blue,” says Nanda. “It reminds me of the beaches in Kuwait and the view of the vivid blue waters from my home.”

(Untitled Painting from Nanda's "Thoughts" Series)

Nanda also likes to go into the psychology of a colour before applying it to her canvas. “I use black because it symbolizes infinity, while in my mind white is the purest colour,” says Nanda. “I also use red quite a lot, as it’s the colour of passion.”

Art that Transcends Psychology and Science

Nanda’s concepts for her art are varied and wide. There is the Energy series, the Eye series and Time Travel series. Her inspiration ranges from the transitions of nature and varied perspectives of people to the Theory of Relativity.

(Autumn, from the Energy Series by Nanda Khiara)

Her latest series “Phrenology”, is based on the science of measuring the brain and is her personal reaction to recent terror attacks across the world. The molten threads of colour set against vivid backgrounds look like they are weaving inner thoughts channeled through the brain.

(Untitled Painting from the Phrenology Series)

“I am interested in what makes people happy, and so my art revolves around psychology and my passion for life,” says Nanda. “At the end, what interests me most is to understand the different things people see in my art, and having a dialogue with them on it.” 

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