“MADHURI BHADURI is an icon of optimism” - Aashna Abrol

Madhuri at her recent solo show in Pune with artworks from the seascapes series on display

Born 1958, Madhuri Bhaduri is a versatile personality with multifarious interests and capacities. Her career graph amuses us from the days of meagre selling to humongous increases in rate and sales. Not only has she played badminton and squash at national level but also received All Ladies League award for Iconic leadership in Art, Design & Entrepreneurship. Moreover, she is a recipient of the reputed Sarojini Naidu National Award for Women and achievers award by Savvy Magna Publications. Benevolent by nature she has also been a great support to many charity organisations like Concern India foundation, Cancer patients Aid Association, Bhuj earthquake, SEC (Society for Education of the Crippled), CRY, Help age, among others.

Although she paints for the sheer experience of blithe, her career charts a route from figurative to stunning and serene abstracts. Nature is one of the primary and foremost inspirations to her. She is motivated by the natural elements, which follow a personal road of depth to transform into a vista of abstraction.

Madhuri believes in self-dependence. From the days of playing Badminton alone in the court, she has been diligent in carving the career-road on her own. Dejecting stereotypes, she has learned the norms of the art world from the scratch due to her perseverance and enthusiasm.

Talking for over an hour, I learned about tenacity, patience and diligence as three pillars of success as well as happiness.

AA: How do you explain the evolution of your art?

MB: Initially, I did figurative works and impressionism influenced me a lot, which is reflected in the colours I choose. Apparently, it is to do with the kind of person you are. Depending on your selections, your pattern evolves and also repeats in your expressions. Whether it is seascapes, rooftops, reflection, I have more or less treated my subjects in a similar fashion. Eventually from an impressionistic style, I shifted to abstraction. From doing portraits in the 1990s to coming back to nature in the 2000s, the forms have witnessed several changes; some were adopted while some diminished. This has consistently been the central belief of my life and practice.

Madhuri Bhaduri, Untitled, 2010, oil on canvas, Courtesy Saffronart

Do you believe that one can be a master of many and not necessarily one?

 

For me, painting is not a product. I have three studios and they are full of work. And fortunately, I had never planned on selling my work, but the sale has assisted me to pursue art vigorously. Despite being educated in the non-art stream, I was confident to take Art as my profession, which I guess was meant to be. I believe in giving your best, whether it is painting, workout or anything that you undertake. I live in the moment, leaving the baggage of the past. You will be known through the quality of work you do. And I keep trying to improve in my abilities, whether mental, ethical or professional. I harness the best things around me for accurate expression. Thus, painting is not a project rather something I deeply enjoy doing. Today, not only are the youth quite aware of the professional terms but the Indian art scene has also transformed a lot.

Accepting and intricately understanding your occupation takes a long time. I have been using oil for 35 to 40 years, which is a versatile medium. This whole process of ‘knowing’ is dynamic and inquisitive. In my abstraction process, I work with real objects but they gradually merge with abstraction through colours, texture and transparent layers.

Madhuri with her artwork from the series 'reflections' at her studio In Pune

Madhuri compares painting with life as a drama-like discourse. The blank canvas in totality suggests that we are free to make our own course without much complication. However, during the course, some areas are indeed simple while some prove challenging to us. So, this introspection is like spirituality; you enter a deep consciousness to learn novel aspects. Pondering on a bad situation will not bring any good. Rather we have to move ahead with sustained positivity. Thus, the whole process of art belongs to the realm of the subconscious.

Many paintings show water as a pervading form on canvas. Do you relate to creativity in the form of fluidity?

 

Any natural thing that attracts my senses is something I want to paint. The factors of speed, the stillness of waters appeal to me the most. Water is a dynamic element of nature, projecting serene as well as ferocious nature. It is my calling. Similarly, I am also fascinated by the moon. Thinking about the reason, I think it is subconscious, which I don't have any control over. Some paintings are successful while others are a disaster. This is how I evolve. I have painted many subjects, which I have never exhibited.

Madhuri Bhaduri, Reflections, oil on canvas, Courtesy Saatchiart.com

You are Badminton and Squash champion, singer, an artist. How did it all start?

I had always thought that art is my call. But my family is full of sportsmen and they played at the national level. I did not make a special effort to learn Badminton, because I got my racquet at a very early age. From the start, I had been involved in fitness activities like swimming, running, among other sports. I have also participated in tournaments since I was a kid. But I was bent towards drawing from the time of school. I remember once when I must have been in third or fourth std, I had made a ‘Rainy day’ drawing for my brother, for which he received a prize. I enjoyed drawing more than any other subject.

None of our family members are arty except my mother who was a classical singer. But due to the death of my grandfather at an early age, and familial restriction she was not allowed to pursue her talent professionally. However, she was permitted to work at All India Radio because it was a reputed firm. My mother continued doing riyas until she died. Although I have learned singing I don't do it much because my voice is not that good.

Being busy in several inter-collegiate competitions and programs, I hardly painted. Except for my school and college, I have painted for a long time now. And before I had my first exhibition, I practised for eight to nine years. At the start, people loved my work and started buying them. My first exhibition was organised in 1986, wherein from around 60 works, some more than 40 were sold. From this show, I also was fortunate to connect to Jamsetji Tata, who bought my paintings too. From this exhibition, I grew confident of myself as an artist. I travelled to cities and lived there for a couple of years to receive the correct art-fraternity exposure. Basically, I began learning the professional elements of the art community in India. And until 1995 there was no such thing as gallery culture.

Madhuri showcasing her lamp sculpture made with scrap metal and reused hand painted bottles in her studio

When I asked about how pandemic has been fruitful to her creative expressions, she shared about the change in the colour palette to red and pink and the relative series. Talking to Madhuri Badhuri charged me with optimism and a never-give-up attitude. Her paintings reflect not only nature but also beam the ray of hope and contentment! Today, they are a part of several corporate and esteemed art collections.