(Verbatim from a write-up by the renowned art critic Keshav Malik)
From among the practitioners of modern Indian art, deprived of hearing, though, the painter Prabha Shah may well be, she long ago made up for that infliction by dogged perseverance, persisting in pursuing her chosen muse over the decades with single-mindedness which is surely unique. Her loss has been made up amply by the enhancement in her powers of imaginative vision. The sun-blessed state of Rajasthan (India’s largest state) is especially rich in the age-old magnificent artistic heritage of palaces, temples, shrines and forts, as well as being blessed with a long tradition of painting and sculpture. All such feed this contemporary artist’s sensibility and thus to inform her painting with the spirit of a place. She is no uprooted or alienated being as now, not infrequently, happens to too many modern artists in the rapidly changing global culture of the day. She instead has absorbed modernity, and to which her painting testifies, and yet the living link with her tradition is well maintained.
Shah’s brush is her true speech. And if suffering depravation, that of hearing, she all the more notices her surroundings with exceptional acuteness. As her works show, she notices people as well as objects with equal perception. And also that, what is noticed with the eye of the imagination is disciplined by the laws of dynamic form. Invariably her work achieves a harmonious balance between naturalistic description and the abstractions of subjects, worked out by the creative mind. She is not limited to either of the obligations, but judiciously combines them in such a manner that even though distorting appearances she is faithful to the being of actuality. Any extreme contentless abstraction is not for her. Rather, it is used to serve a function, that of making the observed truth fuller, more memorable. In other words Shah, who once took off from the idiom of Rajasthani miniature painting, has reintroduced that manner or memory via compositions of simple planes and long lines to work out vistas, as of receding mirrors. The loss of decorative ornamentation is counterbalanced by the promise of a fresh world, of a self-discovering, self-making mind. What thus emerges from that confluence of training, of influences and personal inspiration, is that the artist’s experiments are not without anchor, unlike much contemporary art that has tended to become too irrationally sensational. Shah does not move away totally from the objectivity of the real, but rather locates it in the particularity of the locale. She is not a sentimentalist either who lacks the courage to face the outward world of social or natural anarchy. Her imageries are rooted in the past, a relived past, and is never merely a chasing of the will o’ the wisp.
So, and to repeat, hers is a well-tethered art and the artist keeps refining her craft so that the original vision appears as a convincing fiction. She shows how the world would feel in its contemplative moments. In this way, there comes about Shah’s chosen best and which in fact is a manifestation of her affections. That is how this ever smiling painter has been happily renewing herself year after year.