If you looked at the free flowing forms and bold, unrestrained use of colours in the art works on display at Shraddha Rathi’s recent solo show Rhythm of Colour in Bengaluru, you would not be able to tell that she, initially, had inhibitions about using bright hues.
“For an artist, the transition from narrative to abstract is a leap of faith. Change is inevitable. From form to formless and monochrome to colourful,” Shraddha says.
This is yet another effort to express herself, through basic design. “I have used line as an element in all its variations. Free flowing forms that overlap and merge into each other.... These works have an essence of movement in them. I realised that I was scared of using colours and did not have magenta or purple in my palette. [Senior artist] Milind Nayak urged me to be bold and use colours freely,” she shares.
It would also be pretty hard to tell that Shraddha has never studied art formally. An architecture graduate from Jawaharlal Nehru Engineering College, Aurangabad, Maharashtra, Shraddha practiced architecture and interior designing. She often ended up creating artworks for her clients.
In 2007, Shraddha decided to take up painting as a full-time profession. The roots of this passion lie in her childhood years in Aurangabad, home to the Ajanta and Ellora caves. “I was exposed to Indian art and craft and was fortunate enough to grow up in an atmosphere at home which was conducive to soaking up the arts. Back then you hardly had girls taking up architecture as a profession and my father, who is a doctor, wanted me to study medicine,” she reminisces.
Her creativity also found expression through her training in Bharatnatyam and Odissi. An accomplished dancer, Shraddha has represented India in various countries, including France, Malaysia and Singapore. The amalgamation of these two fields predominantly influences the imagery in her works on canvas.
“When I started my journey with oil paintings 18 years ago, art galleries were not accessible to many. Senior artists JMS Mani and Milind Nayak have been pillars of support and nudged me to keep at it relentlessly,” says Shraddha.
As a child, she visited art galleries with her father. “I always make it a point to continue this habit whenever I travel, whether in India or abroad. All things vintage and historical appeal to me, partly because of the place of my birth and partly because my father was an avid collector of anything vintage,” says the artist and mother of two.
Through rhythmic forms, colours and textures, Shraddha creates thought-provoking and inspiring paintings. Her work combines traditional Indian values and modern experiences with the expression of beauty and humanity.
Looking at the assortment of her work, hung up in virtually every room of her home, it is easy for even the uninitiated to see that she has evolved as a painter rather swiftly. Her early works she calls ‘Shadows’ and one can see why, soon enough.
“My affinity to architecture resulted in the series of paintings called ‘Shadows’. I worked on themes that lend themselves to perspective and space. It is an attempt to capture the beautifully crafted and carved stonework of our historical past. I love the subject for its sheer contrast. The moment I add shadows, the image starts coming alive to me. I have used visible brush strokes, unusual visual angles and light in its changing qualities in a monochromatic colour scheme,” she explains.
Her ‘Qutub Complex’ series captures her eye for detail and love for architecture and design. ‘A Journey Within’ focuses “on my thoughts and ideas of Indian culture and teachings of Buddha—what we think we become”.
The creator of inspiring art says she finds her own inspiration in quietude. “Being with myself and in silence and going on regular spiritual retreats with my most wonderful and supportive husband Susheel has given me inner strength and insights which I believe reflects in my work.”
Shraddha parts with a tip on appreciating and enjoying art. “When you look at a painting and it appears abstract, ask yourself whether it makes you feel good. There is no need to analyse it. Every time you look at it, it’s possible that new meanings and interpretations emerge.”