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Acche Din - An adaptation of John Everett Millais’ Ophelia by Dania Quadri

Updated: Oct 12, 2020

Dania Quadri is a 2nd year medical student at King’s College London. Her acrylic painting below entitled ‘Acche Din’ is a reflection on violence and bloodshed in Modi’s India.

My work is an adaptation of John Everett Millais’ Ophelia. Where Millais depicts Ophelia’s tragedy, I have drawn on the themes of nature, memory, life and death to display anti-Muslim violence in modern India. The river depicts how mutilated bodies were found floating in gutters during the 2020 Delhi pogrom. The bars also allude to the unlawful detainment and torture of a religious teacher and his nearly 100 students in Muzaffarnagar by local police.

In keeping with Millais’ adherence to the pre-Raphaelite brotherhood tradition, I have used intense colours and maintained a complex composition. These were achieved using thick brush strokes, varying shades of colour and painting complementary undertones underneath the painting to alter saturation.

The lotus and limbs depict the contrast between life and death, the blood is both bright red and fresh, but also dull in some places further reinstating this paradox and indicating at the passage of time. The flowers are similarly symbolic to Millais’ Ophelia; the willow and nettle signify pain and innocence; the violets represent demise of the young; and the poppy signifies death.

The Hindi verse is from Amir Aziz’s Urdu poem Sab Yaad Rakha Jayega (Everything will be remembered.)

Translation: You may murder us, but our ghosts will write the evidence of your murders.

Words by Dania Quadri


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