Festive art: This artist paints the beautiful colours Makar Sankranti in her artworks
By juxtaposing the open terraced buildings with the spires of temples that overwhelm Benares, artist Mamta Malhotra brings to life the chaotic flavours of the holy city on canvas in her painting — ‘Neelkanth Nagri’. The artwork will be showcased as part of her upcoming solo show that looks into the depths of Kashi’s “soul” through the kaleidoscope of Makar Sankranti.
‘Kashi ke Rang: Of Faith and Festivities’ will open on January 9 at India Habitat Centre . Kites soar high in almost every painting in the collection, dotting the city skyline, symbolic of Benares’ ambitious movement towards urbanisation.
But, it is the thin string keeping the kite grounded, that interests her — it represents the city’s grit to stay rooted in its traditions despite the ongoing development. “As the city moves towards urbanization, we ponder how best to maintain our essence while embracing the future and respecting the limits of nature,” she says.
Before her stint with painting, Malhotra trained in architecture and her lessons from then inevitably creep into the art she creates. It is, therefore, not surprising that her collection exudes a beautiful balance of artistic aesthetics and architectural lines.
In her dynamic mixed media pieces, she uses wood, canvas, paint, paper, ceramics and thread to add layers and dimension resulting in highly textural works that intrigue the senses. ‘View from the Ganges’ is a sculptural work that doubles up as a candle holder.
Created in teak, ceramic and mixed media, the sculpture evokes the meandering lines of the shining blue waters of the Ganges, and the undulating skyline high above the river. “The stepped ghats are the inspiration behind this teak wood piece. The natural grains of organic growth of the silk like teakwood are nature’s reflection of the mighty Ganges,” she says.
‘Riverscapes: Under a Makar Sankranti Sky’ is a series of paintings in acrylic that captures the festival of harvest, as a time of hope, color, and a promise of good times. The emotions are conveyed by the use of fresh colour and bold strokes.
The collection also features an oil painted antique wooden trunk. Malhotra has titled it — ‘Sankranti Chest’. Over 60 years old, the trunk has travelled all over the country with the artist’s army family. “It has been a witness to the wars of 1965 and 1971. This real treasure chest is my tribute to the sun, the seasons, and human endeavour,” she explains. The show is set to continue till January 14.
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