Holding true to its name at the Serendipity Festival, I met Dithi – a Bengali artist.
The auspicious red colour on most of her artworks moved my Muladhara Chakra. Her pop take on regional goddesses came to life for me, when I saw her stand before me with heavily kohled eyes, curly locks, big bindi, checked cotton sari and oxidized silver jewelry.
All that enigma had me waiting patiently until the Durga Pujo festivities were over in her home town. And now I’d like to share the young lady’s candid replies on art, inspirations, learning and little else.
MD: When did you realize you were artistically inclined?
D: Loved making art ever since I can remember!! My sisters and I would paint edlessly on holidays or weekends and it became an integral part of our bonding. During childhood, maternal uncles and cousins who were prolific painters, left an indelible mark on our malleable minds with their stunning oils and pastels. So, the inclination was born and nurtured within the family. The way my father grafted roses in his magnificent garden, maa and sisters added character to their living spaces; we turned to creativity to communicate with each other, as it was an essential part of our personalities.
MD: Who have been your inspirations?
D: As all turning points call for self-exploration, when we moved to Switzerland in 2007 I started art journalling. I had completely stagnated as a dietitian and felt the need to make a career shift. Hence getting back to painting after so many years, was cathartic. Commissions started coming within a year, reputed magazines (namely Femina, BBC Good Homes, the Times of India) and blogs featured my work. The validations kept me going. After some years of self-study, blogging and selling online, quite by chance on one of our India trips, I met my mentor ~ Ramen Sir. He has been the real catalyst in my growth over the last 4 years. I also owe it to some fellow artists who I met along the way, and have become my heroes for nurturing their calling, as silent mentors and supportive karmic sisters- Vineeta Nair (ArtnLight), Archana Srinivas (Rang Décor) and Ritika Mittal (MORA) .
Philosophy wise, its Sufism and baul ideologies that have influenced my work. Old Bengal seduces me while mythological, spiritual narratives and folklore intrigue and fuel my imagination!
MD: What are you trying to achieve through art?
D: As I mentioned, I started art journaling post our move to Europe, to cope with the shift and disconnect in a foreign land. To monetarily support my journaling, I listed my first canvases on ebay. The inner voice told me I should continue, even though I had no idea about my journey to becoming a full time artist. It was serendipitous, and been a free flow since then.
Art is a way of connecting with my spirit…..my roots, the feminine energy through mythological narratives and of birthing my own language on canvas.
MD: What mediums do you indulge in and why?
D: Earlier, I used to only work on canvas with acrylics. I do still enjoy that, but am currently drawn more to watercolors and tempera. In printmaking – relief printmaking (linocuts, woodcuts) and etchings are my current favourites.
MD: Which artists do you admire?
D: Frida Kahlo. Vincent Van Gogh. Paul Gauguin. Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Gustav Klimt. Raja Ravi Varma. Amrita Shergill. Nandanlal Bose. Abanindranath Tagore. Benod Behari Mukherjee. Chittaprosad Bhattacharya. Haren Das. Bikash Bhattacharya. Ganesh Pyne. K G Subramanyan. Sakti Burman. Thota Vaikuntham. The charming Dutch Bengal paintings and Battala Woodcuts by artsits . And my list can go on!
MD: What else excites you other than art?
D: Travelling, yoga, meditation, music, quality time with family and friends are all my stress busters. I love to photograph…. to freeze moments in time, knowing that the city’s landscape is quickly changing with the juicy old making way for the synthetic new – it is a very crucial time for us who are witnessing and documenting Kolkata. I specially enjoy the old world charm still breathing it’s magic into some quiet bylanes of the 200 year old neighbourhoods of North Kolkata or Kalighat. Am truly happy to have moved back in 2013.