The artist Shefali Ranthe brings a blast of colour to the earthen walls of Bastakiya in Dubai. Her exuberant series Joy of Life is on show at Sahary Gate until Nov 5. She spoke with us about living in Dubai, her background and how gospel music influences her painting.
I was born in Bangladesh and adopted by a family in Denmark in 1979. I attended art school there. I was a graphic designer for 15 years and then I became an artist. I have been a full-time painter for the last five years now. Both are similar, as you always have to design before you paint.
My husband and I wanted to try something new and adventurous. Dubai is always in the news in Denmark, so it looked very exciting and promising. As a family in Denmark, we had a very busy lifestyle. I wanted to enjoy life. Now I am here in Dubai, I love the weather and I have more time to study art than I did before. I had a good name back home and now I am trying to establish myself as an artist in Dubai. I haven't quite figured out how things work here, but I have had a good start with two exhibitions and I have already sold a lot of my paintings.
I have been painting for 20 years now and I love it. It gives me personal joy and meaning. I have always been creative and worked with my hands. I have worked with many painting styles, from abstract to figurative and naturalistic and I love playing with colours.
I have a lot of favourites but right now it is Joy of Life. I think it is the best series I have made. It has strong colours which make me happy and bring me great joy.
My daughter is my best source of inspiration. She draws, tells stories and sings a lot. I love her enthusiasm and amazement at what she creates. I'm also inspired by everyday life and cartoons.
I like Picasso. He was a great man and I love the way he uses motifs. A face is not drawn exactly like a face but you know what it is. His paintings are so imaginative.
I love singing gospel music. I love dancing and listening to music that gives me energy to paint. I use music to get me in the mood to work.
Two years ago, I worked on a project learning about children's art in an institution in Denmark. This gave me the inspiration for Joy of Life. Some people might see the paintings as childish but actually they are for grown-ups. The purpose of the painting is to give positive energy and inspiration, which children often have so much of.
Visit @email:www.shefali.dk for more information.