There are very few contemporary women Odia artists in the State and Chitra stands out prominently among them. As a woman, her idiom and artistic expression is different.
As an artist, most of Chitra’s creations during her long artistic journey are based on themes of womanhood.
An alumnus of Kala Bhavan, Biswa Bharati University, Santiniketan, the artist forayed into the world of painting since she was a kid. “My first painting was oil on canvas, of my mother,” she recalls. A lover of Indian mythology and culture, Chitra says women for her are the source of inspiration and creation.
Abstract forms of women and nature are recurrent motifs in her works. Her colour palette includes hues such as earth-fired yellow, rusty orange, sombre blue and deep red. Be it oil, Indian ink or acrylic on canvas, women and their relationship with society and nature have remained central concerns in her works. Rural women, folklore, motherhood, women empowerment, identity are some of the themes she likes working on. Day to day incidents that women experience are woven into a colourful tapestry with animals, birds and motifs drawn from craft traditions. And even if some of her works are influenced by folk art traditions, Chitra renders them a contemporary touch by planting her characters in a very present-day world.
Just where do these renderings of life fit in? “I attempt to transfer my observations onto my canvas. I depict her changing world through my work,” says the painter.
However, though she has been drawing women for a long time, Chitra doesn’t want to be tagged as a feminist. She also harps on issues concerning the society ‘’because I see painting as an act of social responsibility, of sorts.’’ Therefore environment, politics (occasionally gender politics too) find a very visual expression in her oeuvre.
The painter has held 11 solo exhibitions and participated in various group shows in cities like Bangalore, New Delhi, Kolkata and Taiwan.
Her collections have found place in the Kala Bhavan, the Birla Academy of Fine Arts, Kolkata, the Odisha Secretariat and the Odisha Tourism Development Corporation (OTDC) besides private and corporate collections.
She is at present, preparing for another group exhibition on the occasion of International Women’s Day here next month.