Alyina (b 1995) is a London based artist from New Delhi and Srinagar. She has recently graduated from Royal College of Art with an MA in Painting.
She paints scenes of a fictional, fantasy world she has created. Her paintings reflect her cross cultural background — she has lived in India, the USA, and now is planted in the UK.
She loves Kota, Uniara, Mughal, and Safavid miniatures and looks to them for inspiration almost every day. The colours in her paintings are mostly influenced by colours found in these miniatures, by memories, and by the environments around her.
She is also a vivid dreamer and her dreams will often creep into her paintings.
I went back home to Delhi last winter and found myself surrounded by magical thinking. People were cursing one another or they were trying to counteract being cursed. There was a fear of the power of magic. The rituals in place to counteract curses or even ward off the evil eye seemed so bizarrely specific. No one could tell you the reason why the rituals had to be done a certain way. They just knew that was what was done.
I knew I needed a bit of magic in my life, especially during this pandemic. So I took to creating a fantasy world where magic existed and tried to uncover certain mysteries through my paintings. In one painting, I wanted to unearth why certain rituals were the way they were in this world I created. Other paintings depict the actual ritual taking place. There’s a ritual where the moon is circumcised by angels. I think that’s a sort of celestial purifying ritual. There’s a ceremony where angels lower eggs to the ground. I think that’s about bringing new life to this earth. I haven’t painted any sinister rituals yet — no curses!
I realised that I already had my own rituals when making a painting. For example, I have to use one particular brush to render my fleshy rocks otherwise I have an inexplicable fear they might not come out right. I decided that all my rituals could, in a way, render my paintings magical — talismans of a sort.
©Alyina Zaidi 2021