Self Portrait (Thorn-birds)
by Esther David (b. 1945)
Acrylic on canvas
18 x 14 in. (45.72 x 35.56 cm.)
Esther David is a Jewish-Indian author, an artist and a sculptor based in Ahmedabad. When I asked her about this portrait, she wrote a letter to me describing her work:
When I painted Thorn-birds, I had just returned from Paris. During those years, I had discovered Mexican painter Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) when we were in Mexico. I was fascinated by Frida’s self-portraits, which inspire women to overcome personal tragedy. Later, I saw her work in Paris and while looking at her Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird, suddenly I saw my own reflection in the glass frame and felt, I was looking at myself, so, I painted Thorn-birds for you.
At Vadodara’s Faculty of Fine Arts, I was asked to study Applied Arts. I refused. At that moment, famed sculptor Sankho Choudhuri walked into the studio, saw my drawings, liked them and adopted me. Sankhoda said, creativity is a room with many doors, you just have to open YOUR door. So, for fifteen years I was sculptor, art critic, professor of art history, chairperson Lalit Kala Academy, had a NGO for Intuitive Arts and exhibited at Unesco Paris. But, while living between Ahmedabad and Paris, I felt writing liberated me, so my characters are first born in my sketch books and then used to illustrate my novels, where, words become lines and lines become words.