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Leicester artist Jemisha Maadhavji specialises in painting stylish portraits of people who she finds unique – people who stand out and apart from the crowd.

Her work has caught the attention of Vogue India and Harper’s Bazarre Arabia, who’ve both chosen to feature it in their glossy publications.

When you look at Jemisha Maadhavji’s work, the first thing that hits you is the bold quality – the strong, vivid colours and the striking juxtaposition – different textures stitched together skilfully and screaming out all at once. It’s intriguing, iconic and impossible to ignore…

When it comes to the subject matter, (and Jemisha’s reasons for choosing her ‘stars’), her work becomes all the more intriguing. These are people that have been handpicked by the artist – people she’s either come across on social media or who’ve caught her attention on the street.

They are her ‘icons’ – her ‘celebrities’.

“In today’s age of selfies and social media, people have a tendency to look online at what all the celebrities are wearing, and how they’re living their lives. Then they try to imitate what they’re doing. With my work, I wanted to get away from that. I want to showcase people who don’t follow the trends,” she told Pukaar. 

“They do what they want to do, and stay true to who they are. They’re the people that I really admire.”

Jemisha, 26, has recently finished her Masters Degree in Fine Art, which she studied at De Montfort University.

One of the projects she completed was called ‘My Celebrity’, a series of portraits of ordinary people who she felt compelled to paint.

Her medium of choice is oil on canvas or linen, and she works from photographs styled and taken in a studio.

“When I do a shoot, I may give the person a flower or a chair to sit on, but I don’t want to direct them 100 percent,” she revealed.

“I give them the freedom to do whatever they want. How they want to sit – if they want to go upside down on the chair, it’s up to them. I just want to bring their personality out and capture their essence I guess.

“When I paint, I want it to look like the person, but I’m not always necessarily going for a super realistic style,” she continued.

“I like to paint something that represents the individual. For example, with my painting ‘Hypnotica’, the face is painted in lots of different colours to represent the person’s flamboyant and jovial personality.

‘Hypnotica’: Jemisha Maadhavji

“The essence and personality of the person. That’s what I want to capture on canvas.”

As well as being inspired by the individuals she paints, Jemisha is influenced by her rich Indian heritage, and also the area where she lives, close to Leicester’s glittering Golden Mile. 

“I live just off Belgrave Road and there are beautiful shop window displays, which I see on a daily basis… exquisite clothes and jewellery,” she explained.

“I love to include different fabrics and textures in my work, and bring it all together.

“As for the people, Leicester is such a diverse city and that really inspires me too,” she added. “There are people from all over the world, doing so many different professions and I absolutely love that idea.”

When it comes to other artists, Jemisha is inspired by the work of the ‘old masters’, classic painters like Rembrandt, Caravaggio and the Pre-Raphrealites.

She’s also interested in Indian miniature painting.

Recently, her work attracted the attention of high profile magazines, Harper’s Bizarre and Vogue India, who featured it in their fashion section.

Jemisha’s work has been showcased at art fairs and exhibitions both locally and further afield. Most recently, three of her paintings were housed exclusively within gallery London Connoisseur, and a selection of her paintings are set to be showcased at South London Gallery from December 9 – March 19.

‘I Dream From Where You Are:’ Jemisha Maadhavji

After being featured, the artist says that it’s not uncommon for her models to be approached by people in the street, who recognise them from her paintings.

It’s a unique by-product of her craft, which she finds exciting.  

“My models being recognised kind of goes with the idea of them being my ‘celebrities!’ she said with a smile.

“People will come up to them and say ‘aren’t you that person from the painting?’, stuff like that. Then they’ll say, ‘it’s really lovely to see you in person.’ It’s think it’s great. It adds a new dimension to my work.

“I really want people to experience the paintings, and also be inspired by the figures as well,” she added. 

“I want people to feel really joyful and to forget about the other things that are going on in their lives when they look at my work. I just want them to stop, to be pulled in and just enjoy the moment.”

To find out more about Jemisha’s work, visit:

By Louise Steel

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