Their stories through art

Ambika Shaligram
Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Sisters and artists Neela Anand and Shobha Patki are exhibiting their paintings at a city gallery. We speak with Patki about their work styles and what inspires them

Neela Anand studied at JJ School of Arts, but the challenges in life saw to it that she could devote herself to the colours and fine lines only as a hobby. Her cousin, Shobha Patki was creatively and artistically inclined and wanted to follow in her elder sister’s steps. But she was asked to take up Science instead. After marriage, Patki did MA in Art and Painting and then took up painting, holding exhibitions in Delhi, Bengaluru and Mumbai. 

On Anand’s 75th birthday, Patki decided to celebrate her artistry, by holding an exhibition of her paintings and also bringing out a book, Nature and Designs, which includes Anand’s 50 artworks. The duo are displaying their works at an ongoing exhibition at Bliss Art Gallery, Koregaon Park.

“Neela studied at JJ School of Arts and wanted to be an artist. But due to some unforeseen circumstances, it became necessary for her to hold a job. She first worked at Camlin, and also taught in a few schools. She shifted to Talegaon from Mumbai, and when I went to meet her recently, she showed me a big pile of paintings that she had worked on. I felt that these paintings needed to be displayed,” says Patki, who is 74.

The exhibition titled ‘Nature & Narrative’, has about 75 paintings done in Madhubani style, works done in fine line. Most of these works are an ode to nature — flowers, birds — done on canvas in 9.5 x 7.5 inches. The narrative segment has Patki’s artworks, which are inspired by Chitrakathi or Paithan art style, done in mixed media art like plywood, canvas and paper on paper. “Neela was fascinated with Madhubani art style, especially the fine lines used in creating master folk art. The figurative style of Madhubani is widely known. So she took up the lines aspect and depicted the flora and fauna in delicate form. Whereas I have often used the Chitrakathi motifs in my painting series that I have worked on so far, like ‘Dances of India’ or ‘Music of India’. I had visited Raja Kelkar Museum in the city and took a close look at the Chitrakathi art work when I was studying. This style has been ignored as compared to other folk arts and so I have used the motifs to enhance my art,” adds Patki. 

For this exhibition, Patki also has some compositions of torn paper art. The septuagenarian artist has stuck torn pieces of handmade paper on a full handmade paper and the edges are coloured. “Most of the stories told through Chitrakathi are that of the epics, but the way the stories are narrated through pictures is quite fascinating. For instance, if a war scene is being described, the leaves of the trees are more pointed and sharp, while for happy episodes, the leaves are round! I am intrigued by the trees and plants as shown in Chitrakathi. They enhance the story line. I have 15 such paintings. This style of work can be seen in pothi  or prayer booklets. The art done in plywood is more bold. It is heavy work done in resin, which gives scope for relief art, whereas the paintings on canvas have been done in fine line, using glue,” says she. 

ST Reader Service
Visit ‘Nature & Narrative’ exhibition at Bliss Art Gallery, Vimal Kunj Society, Koregaon Park, till August 21, 9 am - 7 pm

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