There is a lack of guile in the paintings of self-taught artist Anita Chauhan that has to it a certain charm in the delineation of form and technique. An exhibition of 35 paintings opened in the city on Friday, in which the artist has set about to explore woman in varied moods, the feminine form is as effortless as would be drawn by a child: large eyes peeping out of an oval face, thick sensuous lips beneath a prominent nose and dark tresses tumbling down the voluptuous body. Paint is dabbed in a playful manner to create raw and thickly textured work.
“These series,” says the Delhi-based artist, “started when I saw a woman gaily dressed in Spanish style at a gathering in Delhi. I am always spontaneous about the subject I choose and this celebratory image of womanhood delighted me.” Thus a whole body of work grew out of this encounter. Whereas the smaller works focus on the face with probably a flower thrown in above the ear, the larger paintings take up a narrative. There is woman unmasking herself, woman seated in yogic meditation or woman as shakti ready to vanquish evil. “The portrayal of woman as shakti and yogini was inspired by the atrocities on women especially the horrendous rapes,” says Anita who started painting as a hobby but went onto pursue it seriously.
The hues used by the painter are bright and close to the primary range and she chooses to apply flaming reds, sunshine yellows and brilliant blues flatly against a touch of black on a textured background created by a mix of acrylic and oil on canvas. In contrast to the colourful mixed-media works are her boldly worked charcoal sketches and one of a barebodied woman covered by her own hair is striking.
Anita has held several shows in Delhi and it is the first time she is exhibiting in Chandigarh, which is special to her because she visited it many times with her mentor, famed dramatist Balwant Gargi. The painter assisted Gargi in script-writing, make-up and costumes during the making of television serials like ‘Bhua Fatima’ and ‘Sanjha Chulah’ in the early Nineties.
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