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Painting not just self-expression, also self-discovery: Artist Sai Priya Mahajan

New Delhi, April 26 (IANS) Painting is not just a process of self-expression but is also that of self-discovery — and the subjects she chooses and the colours she uses also give her an insight into what she strongly feels for, says artist Sai Priya Mahajan, who has exhibited abroad at prestigious events and whose debut show is currently underway in Mumbai.

“For me, painting is not just a process of self-expression but also that of self-discovery. The subjects I choose and the colours I use to paint them also give me an insight into what I am strongly feeling for, at that point,” Mahajan told IANS in an email interview.

“For instance, the last time I put up an exhibition, I had so many paintings that had a lot of natural, pretty subjects including riversides and picturesque city scenes, bringing out serenity, beauty and some mysticism. Looking back at the subjects and the cool shades I used to paint them, I got a sneak peak into the happiness, peace and quiet that I wanted to bring out through my work,” added Mahajan, who has a degree in engineering from IIT-Bombay but found her true calling in art.

This time around, Mahajan’s “The Sound of Colour” show is dominated by warm colours — reds, yellows and with strong contrasts of light and dark. The warm reds with stark contrasts reflect strong emotions, whether those are positive (passion, enthusiasm, strength, conviction, charm) or negative (anger, jealousy, resentment, scepticism).

“For me, artwork through colours doesn’t just convey a visual, it can also speak to you sometimes, tell you a story, convey a feeling, thought or emotion, and when it does that, it can transcend the boundary of being just a visual medium and step into a space where it also attempts to create an illusion of adding touch and sound to the mix, making it a multi-sensory experience,” Mahajan said of the works that are on display at the Bajaj Art Gallery till April 28.

Given that she has presented quite a lot of musicians and dancers as subjects, the theme is also a suggestion of the sound and music the performers seem to create while in action.

“For instance, the painting ‘Rhythm and Harmony’ is an attempt to capture the quick movement of fingers, through blurring, and recreate the sounds of bols in the ears of the audience as the player strikes the tabla,” Mahajan explained.

How did her exhibitions come about?

Last year, while visiting friends and family in the US, Mahajan realised how different the international art scene was from the local one, and decided to also venture out into that territory, whenever possible.

“So when I came across the juried opportunities with Art Revolution Taipei and (New York’s) Northeastern Watercolor Society, I readily applied and luckily got in. Getting accepted into such prestigious shows was a huge morale boost for me, and so was winning the Outstanding Watercolor Award at the BoldBrush contest,” Mahajan said. BoldBrush is the world’s largest free online art guild.

What of the future?

There’s a lot in store, Mahajan said.

“First up is the exhibition in Taiwan, which is a juried show. It’s an amazing opportunity, not just to exhibit but also to network with 300 artists from 87 countries,” she said.

Second, she’s also working on a series of colouring books for adults. These pattern-based designs have become hugely popular with adults as stress relievers, but there are not a lot of good options in the market to buy from. “The idea is to use art forms like Madhubani painting, zentangles, mandalas, et al, and create interesting stories for adults to colour or paint on, across three books,” explained Mahajan, wwho will also be starting weekend workshops in Bengaluru.

“Other than this, I’m now looking for opportunities to collaborate and work with other galleries, curators, artists and designers on all sorts of projects — commissions, wall art, events and workshops,” Mahajan concluded.

(Vishnu Makhijani can be contacted at [email protected] <mailto:[email protected]>)



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