A Fine Artist

  • Anita Jaswal
  • India
  • Nov 16, 2012


Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.  Life beats down and crushes the soul, and art reminds you that you have one. Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.  ~Leonardo da Vinci 

This quote by the famous painter sums up Shelly Jyoti's essence. Jyoti is a visual artist, fashion designer, independent curator, poet and a researcher, whose research centres on the design and visual representation of textiles, embroideries and costumes of the 20th century.

“My work is centred on iconographic elements within the cultural context of Indian history. I explore and construct the hermeneutics of period histories, (and) its contemporary representation of socio-economic and political inquiry, within my art practice,” muses Shelly (excerpts from her biography-website www.shellyjyoti.com).

She trained in fashion, textiles and clothing technology at the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), New Delhi, and earned her Master’s degree in English Literature from Chandigarh. Her first love was for kids-wear garments. She then trained herself as a fashion designer in the early 90s, creating and retailing the haute couture hi-fashion women wear collections under her own label. She moved to the Visual Art medium in 1999. The ‘Lyrical Abstraction 2007 series’ was followed by ‘Beyond Mithila series 2008’ – influenced by the 7th and 8th century art forms of India. ‘The Indigo Narratives series’(2009-2012) were inspired by history and narratives of immigration and transnational economic interchanges, in collaboration with an American artist friend. These visual art exhibitions have travelled across India and the US. She has been invited for a show/talks by the Chicago Cultural Centre, during Jan–April 2013.

She is presently working on  2012-13 projects from her Gurgaon studio. There is a curatorial ICCR project on Textiles of India, to be exhibited at the Asian Traditional Textile Museum, Seim Reap, Cambodia. Her upcoming  solo visual project “Salt: The Great March 2013” focuses on non-violence, tolerance, peace and harmony.

Jyoti has been a judge, given talks, and conducted workshops in art and fashion schools. Her work has  appeared in several Indian and international art journals and magazines.

She has also been writing poetry since childhood. She has been invited to perform, along with a video installation in Mumbai this December, by an international interdisciplinary group ‘Mumbai Twelve’. Her  poetic works are part of the collection of Sahitya Akademi

She is an advisory board member of Disha, a non-profit organisation dedicated to helping children with autism, and is involved with Socleen - a non-profit environmental organisation, and Baroda Citizens Council (BCC) - a non-profit engaged in macro level city and urban developmental issues.

Art is a passion unexplained. As an artist I strongly feel the responsibility to conserve the folk art-forms in my own way. I have an intense interest in visual and textile craft. I love patterns, and patterns within patterns: not only the suave and decorative forms of folk art compositions, but also the reproduction of tapestries, embroideries, silks, motifs, and the bright clutter of vegetable pigments. They remind me of the intermingling of traditions,” enthuses Jyoti.

Azrak Initiative is her ongoing project to preserve the Azrak resist dyeing & printing technique with Bhuj (Gujarat) craftsmen, by documenting the technique through visual representations in the galleries and museums.

She lives and works in Gurgaon. Her husband is the Chief Executive (Railway business), Larsen & Toubro. Her son is a management consultant, and daughter an engineer working as a cyber consultant in USA. 

Both the children have artistic flair, and have held exhibitions in Baroda and Mumbai (Jehangir Art Gallery). “They work with the digital medium. Business school ‘fundas’ from my husband, and my dabbling in different art forms/techniques has been an important learning for my children in their growing up years,” says Jyoti.

It's poetic to see how this artistic family has passed on the brush, from one generation to the next


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