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My First Art Exhibition - 'Meghadoota' (at the Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai) -

It was a happy outcome of my love for Nature, Painting, Indology, and Literature. I never planned my carrier as an artist sticking to fixed ideology, isms or even themes.... I was open to anything beautiful and meanigful. So, when I happened to read the great Indian poet (of the 4 th cent. A.C.) Mahakavi Kalidasa's beautiful poem 'Meghadoota' in Sanskrit, I was instantly taken by its mesmerising charm.

Though I prefer to call it a 'spontaneous reaction', it took me about two years for the preparations before I could exhibit my 24 coloured paintings dedicated to and absorbing the gist of Meghadoota. This was the first of its kind effort, though a few black and white book-illustrations had been done before. The show was very well received. Later on I was invited to exhibit the works at Nagpur and Ujjain Kalidasa Akademy in their prestigeous Kalidasa Festivals.

My Next Theme was 'Tree-Portraits' - which was to give me my current identity as a Tree-Painter.

The study of Indian Miniature Paintings as a part of the preparation for my Meghadoota show gave me a new insight to observe the trees from various angles. The Indian masters, though painted their trees as a backdrop for their chief subject-matter, showed a great understanding for capturing the essential characteristics of some wellknown tree spiecies with minimum details. Their delightfully effective manner inspired me to explore and experiment with the charm of many more Indian and 'now Indianised' trees around.

In my painting, TREE is the central figure, unlike the old miniatures. I delight in showcasing my trees in their full glory whether in various stages of their growth or in different seasons of the year or at a particular time of the day. Depicting associations of trees with specific birds, insects or animals or recording some cultural aspect related to their images happens to be my special interest and forte.

In some of my TREE- PORTRAITS you may even find some interesting drama unfolding itself on the canvas. For this, I employ the unique 'narrative technique' of the Indian miniature masters to freeze a series of happenings in a single frame. My earlier works were absolute fun... very stylised, decorative and graphic in character. Even now my TREE-PORTRAITS are without any play of light and shade or the consideration of scale and perspective.The style is helpful for showing the neccesary details and the overall impression of the entire tree at the same time, on the canvas. And I use gouache (especially in my TREE-PORTRAITS) for executing the line with fluency, for intensity of colour and the clarity of form.

However simple my TREE-PORTRAITS may appear, it requiers a good amount of study and understanding of the given specimen. You even develop fondness for certain species! Over the years I have done a lot of study-sketches to keep notes of the morphological details of the leaves, flowers,and twigs etc. But I use this information rather subtly in my work so as not to affect the simple charm of the final painting.

Lovers of Indian trees with a keen eye for details, have often appreciated such efforts in my TREE-PORTRAITS. The viewers abroad, perhaps enjoy the visual aspect more and delight in getting familiar with Indian trees without going through the botany-books! Apart from painting trees ( and I paint them less and less these days ) I also enjoy venturing with other genre and even creating simple crafts just for relaxation.

Of late I am busy with two major book-projects ...

The one, related with the literary record of the ancient names of Indian trees, over the period of about 4 thousand years, discussing its social and cultural significance. And the other, illustraiting and translating (into English) an extremely colourful anthology called GATHA - SAPTASHATI of the ancient Satavahana period of Indian history (from 2nd cent. B.C. to the middle of the 3rd cent. A.C.). Both the projects are equally dear to me and I want to complete them as early as can.

Friends, I have many more dreams, but only two hands and one life! But I promise to showcase my works as and when possible - so please keep track of this website, if you are interested. Good Bye!

- ARUNDHATI VARTAK

Click the link below, to read about my SHOWS, TALKS AND ARTICLES!

 
     My SHOWS, TALKS AND ARTICLES!