Mona Dalal is known for her realistic and emotive portrayals of everyday India in her work. Dalal’s muse is the common steel vessel -- perhaps the most ubiquitous item of pre-liberalisation India – a persistent childhood memory which has gone on to dominate her canvases.
Aluminum kettles that serve up roadside milky chai (tea), steel utensils hanging from the milkman’s bicycle – these are images quintessential to an India that is also fast being eaten up by the new cosmopolitan world. In fact, Dalal says she sees herself not just as an artist, but also as a documentarian of Indian life.
‘When I compare my growing-up years with the present-day Surat, I almost can’t recognise it. These vessels were so common to my childhood, now you barely see them - the city has changed so much. I like to preserve something of a specific moment. It’s a very real portrayal, but increasingly invokes a strong nostalgia,’ she explains.
Dalal started out creating in glass. Gradually she moved to her preferred medium of oils, which she manipulates to capture the angles and light on steel, and the reflections of life going on around.
She has won awards, notably for her realism, and her work has been housed in both institutional and private collections across India.