How does Anish know his father's painting is unfinished?

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M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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In this poignant moment of the playIndian Ink, Anish visits Eleanor, who is the sister of the poetess Flora Swan. The purpose of his visit was to gather more information regarding his father Nirad's portrait of Flora, which solidified the relationship between the Indian painter and the woman in many ways.

At this point, Anish and Mrs. Swan engage in a dialogue where memories of the day the painting is made surface in the script, leading up to when Swan brings the portrait itself which was kept in the house. The emotion that this elicited in Anish was great enough to make him weep. This is when he noticed that the painting was "vibrant", even when "unfinished".

You see where my father has only indicated the tree, and the monkey...He would have gone back to complete the background only when he considered the figure finished.

Stylistically speaking, the first sign that he picture was unfinished, then, is that the background is not complete. Anish knows that because he knows his father and because he, himself, paints. However, he goes more into depth. His father had not signed the picture either, which is a capital norm in painters. This, is perhaps because his father was not prepared to move on and finish the work.

I wondered why he hadn't signed it. Now I know. My father abandoned this portrait.

In all, the scene where the portrait is painted denotes the complex relationship between Flora and Nirad which, at the same time, reflects the complexity of Indian politics at a time where they were yearning for independence and self-identity, and to reject the British rule as well as their status as colonials.  

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