A 'threshold' for new beginnings

A self-professed traditionalist in painting, Seema Johri did not have any formal training in art. She says it is extensive practice.The self-taught artist is inspired by Raja Ravi Varma’s paintings and has special fondness for ‘Lady with the Lamp’ portrait

Published: 25th July 2016 05:43 AM  |   Last Updated: 25th July 2016 06:04 AM   |  A+A-

CHENNAI: Women and nature are her forte. She paints feminine pieces of art with a lot of cultural references and personal narratives. Strongly rooted in traditional depiction, Seema Johri is constantly creating new avenues to express herself.

“You become more human when you create,” she says. Having published two novels and worked on numerous murals and paintings, she is no stranger to the art world. “It has nothing to do with how educated you are. Painting allows me to connect with my emotions and nature, and comes from within me.”

threshold.jpgSeema works mostly in acrylic and oil paints with a focus on portraits. On closer inspection, you see that her art has many components. With carefully crafted and manipulated layers and striking use of oil work, the self-professed traditionalist says Chennai is a growing hub for art and culture, which has been influenced by Thanjavur paintings, Raja Ravi Varma and several art genres.

Lady with the Lamp portrait by Raja Ravi Varma has had a profound impact on her work. “I was drawn to the beautiful expression on the woman’s face. It is such a simple painting but the way it has been executed is breathtaking. I tried to replicate it as a 3D mural for my latest collection.”

It takes nearly 3-5 months for her to complete a mural. “Painting a mural is harder. While they are good for capturing minute details, it teaches you self-restraint and patience,” she avers. “I work on several projects at a time and try to balance my work accordingly.”

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Over time, Seema Johri realised that creating art could turn out to be obsessive, take a long time and it was something an artist had to persist with despite self-doubts and obstacles all the way in the course of various art projects. “I started my artistic journey with no professional training, late in life. It’s only through extensive practice that I have been able to refine my technique to reach where I am.” Her family encouraged her to take up art full-time and mould it into a career. “My work has always been personal and it is something I have been doing for myself. I never thought it would be appreciated by the public at this scale,” Seema smiles.

Her one-day exhibition titled Threshold was inaugurated by Chitra Visweraswaran on Saturday.  “The expo is named Threshold because I feel like I’m entering a new phase of my life. I created a painting and titled the expo based on that. It is of a woman standing next to a door and you can’t tell if she’s entering or exiting the door. To me, she is going inside. It feels like change and a new beginning.”

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