Thorn-birds by Esther David

Self Portrait (Thorn-birds)

by Esther David (b. 1945)
dated: 1997

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:

Dear Anil,

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.

Esther David