Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Innate strengths

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Instinctive artist Pinky Bhatt’s new show is a tribute to womanhood, writes RAKA SARKHEL

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Pinky Bhatt, a Limca Book of Records holder for her 130-foot painting on women’s empowerment titled Stree Shakti, is a self-taught artist. She draws inspiration from her surroundings, including both the urban and rural spaces of Sydney (Australia) and Ahmedabad (India) between which she divides her time. She paints the first Australians with as much élan and energy as she does the tribal women of Kutch.

As a child, Bhatt would gaze at long weaves of Kalamkari paintings portraying scenes from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata in hues of red, yellow, olive, black and ivory at her hometown in Khanpur, Ahmedabad. It is only natural that her compositions reflect these colours. However, Bhatt refuses to restrict her palette or style and has introduced blues and whites, which depict the brahmand (universe) and shimmery souls respectively.

Her latest Sydney exhibition at the Tap Gallery in Darlinghurst, is entitled Stree Shakti, again.

With their dotted textures and patterned backdrops, Bhatt’s works are reminiscent of Indian Madhubani and Gond paintings.

For Bhatt, art is not just limited to the canvas. She finds art everywhere around her, “In a salad bowl, cushions and curtains, and in nature”. These are her real tutors and they urge her to seek inspiration from within herself and paint freely without being overtly conscious. It is perhaps because of this sincerity that her art finds collectors from Europe and Australia to her hometown in Gujarat, India.

Bhatt’s women are determined and driven, merrily going about their daily chores.

“That is their true shakti – their stoicism and tolerance in the face of adversities,” she reiterates.

The penchant for detail with respect to clothing, ornaments and the setting provide a context to her canvasses, which make them easy to relate to. She spends hours in libraries to research her women, and wants her paintings to reach out to all age groups. That said, I hope she paints women of all forms and frames in future, not restricting herself to slender and lissome muses as most of her canvasses exhibit.

I ask her about what is next on the cards and she says dreamily, “To devote myself completely to art”.

“And what will your inspiration be?” I ask.

“I find my muses everywhere,” Bhatt replies. She turns her attention toward the gallery owner and waves a hand in her direction, “In Leslie, for instance!”

“It could be you too, you know!” she quips at me.


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