A painting elicits an outpouring of different reactions from its viewers as each person has an individual way of interpreting a familiar object through his or her lens of aesthetics, beliefs, and appreciation. It is the virtuosity of a painter to bring together her technical skills and infuse a bit of soul, artistic vision and imagination on the canvas. The power of a painting lies in an artist’s ability to share a story and use the painting as a medium to convey a deeper truth.
The recent entrant into the field of painting is the acclaimed diamond jewellery designer REENA AHLUWALIA, who is a global icon in her own right. Reena’s larger-than-life diamond paintings complete with facets are not mere imitations of the perfect cuts; instead, she correlates the qualities of a diamond to the inner sparkle of the human spirit. Just as each diamond is distinct from the other, so is the essence of each human being different from one another. Reena has created a ripple in the diamond industry. Her objective is to redirect the focus of art lovers and connoisseurs of jewellery to the monarch of the gem world – the diamond. In an exclusive email interview with SHANOO BIJLANI, she speaks about her initiation into painting and the philosophy behind what she does.
You are an accomplished and world-renowned jewellery designer. When did you start painting and what drew you to it? What was the pull-factor?
I have been painting since I was very young. I love the way one can transform a blank piece of paper and make it come alive, expressing one’s imagination. This skill of drawing and the painting process has been a big factor in my success as it became my language as a jewellery designer. This has allowed me to put forth my artistic expressions and lets me tell stories in my paintings and through my jewellery.
You recently commented that diamond paintings engage people to this category even as the diamond industry is going through a rough patch. Could you tell us how these paintings have helped bring focus on the diamond?
My diamond paintings feature hyper-realistic diamonds with ultra-magnified facets. These diamond paintings, I feel, celebrate the shining human spirit … and that’s why for me, diamonds are more relevant today than they have ever been. This is the connection I want to express through my paintings. I want viewers who see my paintings to feel like a diamond: brilliant, radiant, luminous, distinctive and much more! It’s exciting to see people’s reactions as they look deep into my paintings and feel a personal connection to themselves through diamonds.
To paraphrase your thoughts – how do your paintings project an entirely different vibe and convey a strong sense of storytelling?
Diamonds are central to my paintings, always in a metaphoric and symbolic way. My paintings tell positive, uplifting and empowering stories that connect to people. I tell diamond stories because I believe stories are personal, powerful and truly cross-generational. Powerful stories never go out of fashion; they are authentic and live on forever.
How different is freehand painting from painting a diamond? Do you also consider the cuts or facets of the stone in your paintings? I have also seen abstract representations with human figures earlier. Could you throw some light on it?
Diamonds are pure precision! My diamond paintings, just like my jewellery pieces, capture precision and pay tribute to this poetry in geometry. Being a jewellery designer, maker and a professor of technical drawing helps me a lot too. I just don’t want to look at a photo of a diamond and copy. Any painter with basic skills can achieve that. I am not painting specimens; that does not interest me. Instead, I am painting diamond stories with a soul. What I like to do is to use my years of experience of looking into diamonds and capture that je ne sais quoi, that captivating positive essence, and present it through each of my brush strokes.
How long does it take you to finish one painting? What medium do you use?
Depending on the size of the paintings, it can take me anywhere from one month to four months. I love using many mediums, which includes oils and acrylics.
Whom do you sell your paintings to?
My art resides in the collection of distinguished collectors worldwide, including a few prominent Indian collectors.
Where can we see your paintings, and if someone wants to purchase one, what should they do?
At the moment, I have two series of diamond paintings:
Diamond Portal Series and Diamond Portrait
Series. The paintings can be seen on my website
(www.reenaahluwalia.com). To purchase a Reena Ahluwalia
original painting, you can write to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Limited Edition Prints of my paintings are available online:
What motivates you to make diamond art?
What drives me to create art is to be able to spread positivity
and happiness, to celebrate human spirit and the best in
each one of us. This motivates me in a big way. I call it the
‘art to heart’ concept. My intention is to make an impact
that truly matters, and so my diamond paintings support
Jewelers for Children (JFC), an organisation that helps
children who are the victim of catastrophic illness or lifethreatening
abuse and neglect. What better way to make an
impact than through spreading stories of light and love.
That’s what makes diamonds special to me, because they
are carriers of stories, yours and mine.
Any interesting tie-ups that you are currently involved in?
Aaron Shum Jewelry and I unveiled the Coronet® diamond
painting at the September 2016 Hong Kong Jewellery &
Gem Fair. During the show, Aaron Shum Jewelry and I
announced a jewellery design collaboration which will be
launched at Vicenza Oro in January 2017.
Reena Ahluwalia with her diamond paintings in her studio in Toronto, Canada.