For celebrated artist Rekha Rodwittiya, painting has always been a free form of expression that lets her enter into an honest dialogue with herself and others. A recurring motif in her bold-hued paintings is the female figure that represents shades of feminine emotions, concerns and persona without objectifying them.
In Chandigarh for an audio-visual presentation of her body of work, ‘The Personal Narrative of a Feminist Discourse’, organised by the Chandigarh Lalit Kala Akademi at the Government Museum and Art Gallery, Sector 10, the 56-year-old’s viewpoint on women’s empowerment comes to the forefront in just a few seconds of meeting her.
A staunch feminist, she believes that in spite of the gender inequality, a multitude of voices still express the desire to dispel the stereotype of gender bias, and look to accommodate the complex changes we know to be real.
Engage in discourse
An alumnus of the MS University Baroda with a BFA in painting, from the Faculty of Fine Arts in 1981, she was the first recipient of the prestigious Inlaks Fine Arts Scholarship awarded to study painting in the MA programme at the Royal College of Art in London, from 1982 to 1984. So does she feel formal training in important even in a creative medium? Yes, she says. “But at the same time it is more important to engage in discourse.
I have people in my studio (The Collective Studio, Vadodara) who gave up on their engineering jobs, mass communication only so that they could pursue their love for the visual arts,” says the artist in whose own life education played a pivotal role in shaping her thoughts.
Talking about how she started going to school only after she turned seven due to ill-health, she shares that the dominant form of communication was the drawn image for her from a young age.
“I always knew I would be an artist. When you live with your own imaginative territory, you would cultivate it,” says Rekha, who has also been actively involved in art teaching through alternative non-institutionalised methods besides being guest faculty in colleges abroad.
Passion for the arts
Her passion for the arts is evident in not only the way she articulates and dresses but in the way she even moves her hands. “That’s true, if am eating or when am taking a shower, am an artist.
It’s not merely the act of making art or painting that makes one an artist.. it is a way of being,” says the eminent artist. And if that weren’t enough, the artist who visited Chandigarh first when she was nine, the city’s people who played wonderful hosts made her fall in love with it all over again.