Artist Raises the Identity Question

Sapna Dube’s works celebrate imperfections through colours and intricate patterns.

Published: 01st May 2016 05:38 AM  |   Last Updated: 01st May 2016 05:38 AM   |  A+A-

BENGALURU: Sapna Dube’s art exhibition, her first, and on at Venkatappa Art Gallery from till May 1, is a tribute to her mother.

“She was a talented artist and my mentor,” says Sapna. A self-taught artist who cites K K Hebbar, S S Kukke, Freidrich Nietzsche, Pedro Almodovar and Carl Jung as influences, she says her mother was the undying source of inspiration.

After mother’s death in 2011, and passing through mid-life crisis, Sapna to her passion, painting, once more.

“That was an intense period. I was very emotional and questioned the absurdity of the world,” she tells City Express.

Sapna, in a dressed blue denim dress, welcomes you with a smile. After you you look at and contemplate on the paintings, if you engage, she acquaints you with her views, experiences, values and beliefs with the ease of talking to an old friend.

Her inspiration? She replies with an interesting account: “My mother would draw Mandalas -- its elaborate patterns are intricate, symmetrical, precise. She would outline them and put them aside. I remember, as a three-year-old, I had asked her to colour them, but she never would. When I tried to fill in colour using sketch pens once, she had scolded me.” Sapna is teary-eyed now.

After her mother passed away, Sapna was at crossroads, and had to choose between her career as a corporate communications professional or following her heart. “Thankfully, I chose what I love,” she says.

She started reading up on the symbols her mother drew inspiration from. “I never knew Mandalas had such significance. As they are intricate and symmetrical, and are calming to the mind. Maybe my mother could vent out her feelings out through this,” she wonders aloud.

Carl Jung had recommended art therapy, which predominantly uses intricate and symmetrical designs, she says. “That’s Mandalas for me and mom,” she explains. “I use a lot of colour in my paintings as they depict everyday life,” she says.

Most paintings at the exhibition are titled, with some text -- a quote by a writer and her own thoughts -- to go with. “While I welcome interpretations, I think viewers should be aware of my thoughts as well,” she says.

And so she walks through through the exhibition with you.  “This painting,” she says, pointing at one with a Kathakali mask, “is about how we all have lost our sense of identity. We live in a world where everybody runs after the other’s possessions. Whatever we own is governed by another’s belongings -- someone’s car, house, mobile -- we aspire for. Everybody is pursuing the same dreams, the same goals, climbing the same corporate ladder. It is becoming monotonous.”

A little further hangs the artist’s interpretation of ‘a modern Indian woman, who wears a traditionally patterened blouse and a saree that is modern in its look and the way it is draped’.

The face is masked. Sapna says, “This is also about the loss of identity, and you could say it’s me in the picture as I believe in traditions and modernity,” she explains.

A owl painting stands out too. “I went through a phase of collecting everything related to owls -- chains, pendants, rings, stories... The bird fascinated me,” she says.

She says she did not look to the Internet for ideas as she wanted to celebrate the imperfection, and sees it as a way of de-cluttering her life.  “That makes it real. We are real and remembered because of our imperfections, and I am proud to know I’m imperfect,” she says.

The exhibition, she says, is a dream come true. “I am sure my mother is looking down at me with a smile,” she says.

Visitors start to arrive. Vijayalakshmi, an actor, says, “I can see Sapna sitting patiently for hours to make these beautiful works of art. What she was feeling then is evident in the paintings,” she says with a smile.

“The quote helps you understand the painting better,” says Nikita, a visitor.

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