|Delna Dastur creates her art in two extremely different locations a tranquil, tree-shaded studio in her home in Northern Virginia and the other a high-rise apartment balcony in Mumbai. Delna says, “Whether I work in India or the States, it makes very little difference to what I put on a canvas. Although, she confesses, “I am drawn to the brilliance of the colors I was surrounded by during my childhood in India.” Delna Dastur was raised in Mumbai and received her B.A. from the University of Mumbai. Her life in the United States began in 1969 when she started her B.A. in art history at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. After graduating she relocated to Virginia where she pursued her M.F.A. in oil painting at American University in Washington, DC.
Cityscapes and dancers celebrating the victory of nature over machinery play prominent roles on her canvases. Dastur’s works are complex in content as well as in execution. When approaching her canvases she uses several mediums: a first layer of paint and soft pastels; followed by stamping using wooden textile blocks from India in combination with rubber stamps; texture is added using gels, pastes, and clear gessoes; transfers are added (a new layer to her work); and then the work is completed with charcoal. Delna adds, “Over the years as I developed as an artist, I came to the realization that the process of making a piece of art intrigues me as much as its subject matter. I am never satisfied with using one medium exclusively and always attempt to combine several.”
Jack Rasmussen, Director and Curator of the American University Museum says of Delna, “Thirty-five years ago I watched Delna Dastur win the struggle with one of academy’s most difficult problems: the placement of a figure in convincing light and timeless space. Her work, even then, was elegant and vibrant, but it has now grown literal and figurative layers. The silence of the studio has become the jostle of life. Her figures and buildings dance, objects crowd, space collapses. The student has become a master of the present.”
Like her work, Dastur is full of energy. In addition to the time devoted to creating her art, she is a faculty member at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, and The Art League of Alexandria. When in India, she teaches art and language skills at The Central Society for the Education of the Deaf. Her work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions at numerous galleries and museums throughout the world.