CHENNAI: Brewing a deep and contrasting concoction of beautiful rock crystals and the vibrant city of Mumbai, Sareena Khemka deftly wields her brush to create stunning, inspiring abstract landscapes, which trigger emotions and memories for each viewer. “I can’t imagine doing anything else!” she exclaims.
On Mountains of Mumbai
The series is inspired by the bustling city. My work is about architectural spaces and the design elements found within. There are a lot of architectural lines, geometric forms, rock crystals, patterns and networks that I have used to make an abstract mixed media painting to display the contradictory nature of a powerful growing city.
On her professional background
Having been a part of Santiniketan’s bachelor programme and then getting transferred to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where I studied painting, my work is heavily influenced by both cultures. I’ve travelled and lived in different parts of the world. While no particular culture inspires me, everything is an amalgamation into my work. Elements of Indian design come into it along with American abstract expressionism. Architects and artists like Frank Lloyd Wright and Julie Mehretu have left impressions in my mind and work.
On art forms
I prefer working with mixed media now. Earlier, my work had a lot of collages based on paper, with a lot of drawing and water colours. I feel like my work has become a lot more minimalistic over time, more simplified and architectural oriented. I try to find a lot of patterns and networks in all my work and make it more distinct.
In this series, I’ve used blue rock crystals, which to me resembles the small dense slums and urban pockets. If you look closely, there are a lot of shimmering elements. Copper and shiny bronze tones have also been incorporated which reminds me of the high rises, geometric spaces and glitz of Mumbai.
On dream projects & art history
If I could revisit any period for the art, I would definitely go to the Renaissance era. At the moment I’m trying to conceptualise my dream project. It is basically going to be a drawing installation in a room. So you will walk into a physical space to experience the drawing using virtual reality.
Advice for art students
If you want to be an artist, you’re going to have to plan it out and use your time wisely. It’s a great struggle. Focus is the key, and a lot of time usually gets wasted in the decision process. If you’re serious about it, do a lot of research, know exactly what you want to do, and enroll yourself in a good art school.
View her latest series, Mountains of Mumbai at Gallery Veda, Rutland Gate till September.