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Lockdown art: A mother-daughter duo recreate famous paintings in quarantine – art and culture


It all started with the excitement to do something creative in the lockdown. A teacher by profession, Shreya Sharma read about an American photographer, and a project she took up with her daughter. “I read that story four years ago. The photographer’s daughter was 5 years old at that time. The photographer dressed up her daughter as famous women from history… That made me want to do something similar with my daughter, Advaita, when she grows up, and this experiment is a result of that story,” says Sharma.

Cut to the time when Advaita turned 5, and her school teacher asked the class to dress up like their favourite characters from books. Shreya used the opportunity to create something extraordinary with her young one. “I knew all the children would dress up like witch or princess, and therefore I wanted to do something different. Being an art historian, I’ve lots of books on artists and have also bought children’s books for my daughter, on artists. So we decided to dress her up as (Mexican painter) Frida Kahlo. I sent out Frida Kahlo’s pictures to all the friends and family, and everyone loved them. Then I decided to build on it, and continued dressing her up to look like different characters.”

Advaita dressed up as Frida Kahlo for a portrait.

Advaita dressed up as Frida Kahlo for a portrait.

Since then, Shreya has dressed up her daughter in seven different characters from renowned artworks across the world. She explains, “The idea came up because of the ongoing art history project, Getty Museum Challenge. It started in Los Angeles as a lockdown challenge, urging people to dress up as personalities from famous paintings, by using whatever material they have at home. I wanted to recreate lots of paintings, but initially settled for works of seven artists. The Girl with a Pearl Earring (also known as Mona Lisa of the North) created by Johannes Vermeer, and other artists such as Hashiguchi Goyo, and Gustav Klimt were easy to choose as they are very famous paintings, and I knew I could find something in my cupboard to create the costumes and backdrop, to click pictures of my daughter in that get up. But, being an Indian, I wanted to add Indian artists as well, and not just keep it limited to international artworks; so I chose Raja Ravi Varma and Amrita Sher-Gil. For these, I worked backwards, took out all my sarees and dupattas to see which of one their paintings would match with what I have.”

Acing the Mona Lisa look!

Acing the Mona Lisa look!

This project was competed in seven days. Shreya adds, “I did one photoshoot a day and completed it in seven days flat, as I knew that my daughter would loose the momentum if I took a break (smiles).” But now, she has added more works to her series, one of them being The Botanist’s Daughter by Christian Schloe.

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