Oxford-based artist Jaya Mansberger spent her formative years in Nepal and Kauai, an island in Hawaii. Having graduated from the Slade School of Fine Art in London, she produced psychologically charged portraits before delving into abstract artwork. Jaya also teaches art to young people in Oxford.

The painter has always felt compelled to make art; her first memory related to drawing involves her trying to capture the domed shape and colourful flags of the Swayambhunath Stupa in Kathmandu at age 5. As a child, Jaya also developed a passion for drawing mermaids when living by the sea in Hawaii, and hopes to explore these aquatic creatures in her art again soon. When attending secondary school in Oxford, Jaya’s art teacher encouraged her to apply straight to art school at age 18, and the creator is happy she listened. 

Although art usually helps Jaya cope with the state of the world, the pandemic has strongly impacted her art practice. During the first two lockdowns in the UK, the painter lived on a narrowboat on the Oxford canal and was unable to access her studio. Unfortunately, the artist could not make nor store artwork, and had to put her project – a new series of figurative oil paintings – on hold. That being said, Jaya continued to use her sketchbook, and has enjoyed painting the wildflowers growing along the canal towpath with watercolours. She describes painting outside in the sun as an uplifting and useful diversion from doomscrolling.

When detailing what inspires her to make art, Jaya lists: “Intensity, of feeling and vision. Sensuality. Beauty. Grace. Gentleness. Tenderness. Subtlety. Different psychological states. Hope and/or despair. Mystery and the poetic, which have been increasingly erased from our society.” She certainly succeeds in expressing all of this in her breathtaking artwork, making the viewer feel immersed in swirling skies and ethereal atmospheres. Take a look!

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