Colours of wanderlust

Alka Kshirsagar | Updated on June 09, 2011 Published on June 09, 2011

Wandering imagination: A painting by Pune-based artist Madhuri Bhaduri - inspired by her travels, currently on view at Mumbai's Jehangir Art Gallery.

Ms Madhuri Bhaduri

The paintings stacked face-inwards along the walls of this seventh floor apartment in a quiet suburb of Pune are not the only indication that there's an artist at work here. Sculptures grace the entrance, designer furniture made from scrap commands a second look and the bric-a-brac displays clearly suggest a discerning eye.

What easily dominates the surroundings however, are the bursts of colour originating from the canvases mounted on the walls. Resplendent reds, incandescent yellow-oranges, mesmerising blue-greens, pearly grey-whites: reminiscent of glorious sunrises and sunsets, fishing boats against the backdrop of a mercurial sea, a bird's eye view of rooftops in the early-morning haze.

“These are paintings inspired by my travels across the world, and are representations of landscapes in geometric form,” says their creator, Madhuri Bhaduri, who is showcasing around 35 of them at ‘Reveries', her ongoing exhibition at Mumbai's Jehangir Art Gallery.

So a smattering of colours juxtaposed cheek-by-jowl against a smoke-grey background is her impression of rooftops in places such as Prague and Turkey and even the shanties back home.

Then there is a collection of seascapes — representations of her memories of the Mediterranean in Croatia and Greece, and landscapes in brilliant colours etched out from her wanderings in equally picturesque locales.

Madhuri's medium of choice is oil and her technique — similar to, but not quite Impasto — imbues these canvases with a textured, grainy look that gives it a three-dimensional effect. “The layering is with transparent instead of opaque colours to get a 3-D effect without actually loading too much paint,” she explains. “I like experimenting with this medium as every colour behaves differently,” she says.

A badminton player on the national circuit until the late 1970s, Madhuri, 53, asserts that she always knew there was a painter dormant within her. Her romance with the canvas began after the one with the racquet ended.

Starting out with impressionist landscapes in the later part of that decade, and dabbling with various other mediums along the way, with ‘Reveries' she comes, in a manner of speaking, full circle.

Recounting her choice of medium, she says, “I have dabbled with watercolours, done some charcoal sketches and also used acrylic. But I am most comfortable with oil as it is not only time tested and resilient, but also very versatile and the artist can give the paintings a distinctive look.”

Evolving as an artist, Madhuri did some figuration in the 1990s, depicting on canvas Banjara women, Rajasthani tribals, clowns and nudes. “Around ten years ago, I started on abstract landscapes. While this gives more freedom, it is also more challenging,” she avers.

The exhibition, which was inaugurated by well-known singer Asha Bhosle, is the result of over three years of sustained, painstaking work.

Though painting is practically a religion for Madhuri — she feels closest to God when she's at her easel — it is her discipline that has stood her in good stead. She paints 8-9 hours a day, come hail or high water, she murmurs. Her work, like everyone else's, has its highs and lows.

“Every third or fourth painting is a disaster,” she laughs. But the very next morning, she gets back to her studio, easel, palette and paints, most at peace when she's in her world of colours.

Published on June 09, 2011
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