Dutchpainter Ed Vanderkooy is obsessed with beautiful women and with Asia. He has roamed from Bali to Tibet, from Mustang to Shanghai in search of subjects to render into acrylic on canvas. He takes months on each portrait and only paints a few every year. But what a few! The paintings are astounding: breathtakingly intricate with a sharpness and clarity that transcends even a photographic image of the subject. The paintings are life-size, and the women all wear traditional dresses with Ed taking as much trouble painting the dresses as the faces. The elaborate designs, the texture of the fabric, the play of shadow and light on the robes yield rich and stupendously life-like portraits that give the viewer a feeling of intimacy with the subject.
And so it is with the portrait of Princess Sruti, which will be on exhibit at the Siddhartha Art Galley in Baber Mahal Revisited from 7-21 May in an exhibition with abstract paintings also by fellow-Dutch artist Piet Warffemius. The radiance of the princess' smile, her face and bearing gives us a rare look at our royalty that a photograph would not have been able to capture. Ed first spoke to Princess Sruti for nearly two hours, getting to know her personality, taking photographs of her and taking it all back to The Hague to work for two months on the painting. "She is a thoroughly modern woman of the world. She is shy but not formal, and she is very knowledgeable about art. It was a pleasure to paint her," says Ed who started from dark brown and worked with lighter and lighter shades of acrylic. The result is a portrait that could well be in the same class as the Dutch masters exhibited in the Amsterdam Museum.