MADHURI KATHE on the decisions leading to her art

Madhuri Kathe was born in 1972 in the ancient city of Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh. She received a double Masters and a PhD by the age of 27! She has not only explored various mediums in this process but also gained a lot of knowledge and guidance under her mentors namely, Dr V.S. Vakankar, Dr O.P. Bhatnagar and Dr Sushila Pant.

She has taken part in many groups and solo shows in India and internationally. (To view all go to the end of the article!) She has showcased her works at places such as Jehangir Art Gallery, Kala Ghoda- Mumbai, Dhoomimal Art Gallery, Nehru Center Art Gallery and Galerie Mueller-Germany. Some of them have even been inaugurated by eminent artists such as Bhupen Khakhar and Jatin Das.

“My works are based on the fact that nature and our body are made up of five elements–Earth, Fire, Water, Air and Sky each representing a colour. The use of the five primary colours Black, White, Yellow, Green, Blue and red gives birth to the vision of Nature.”

AA: Please discuss your colour palette. I see most of your works have similar calming hues such as sea-green, blue, burnt orange, purple, pale yellow and white. Why these specific colours? You say they resemble nature, can you please elaborate...

MK: My palette has quite soft and subtle, calming hues. I feel they signify the meditative state of mind at that particular moment. My practice in the abstract genre has spiritually been nurtured by reading various literature that my father used to explain, listening to Indian classical music and ragas and yoga philosophy Bhagvat Gita and Gyaneshwari during my childhood till teenage, throughout my educational journey, through parental teachings.

Size: 24 x 24 inches

Medium: Acrylic with Mixed Media on Canvas

Year 2018

AA: Your choice of mediums is very interesting. Please talk about how you come up with these- medical gauze.

“something deep within you dying to be reborn”

tissue, and handmade papers from Korea. All the mediums you selected are very delicate, is there a reason for this?

MK: I first came in touch with gauze through my experiments with varied mediums such as handmade papers, paper mache, organic cotton fabrics and rice papers. I had been looking for a material that can be used on canvas and colours can be applied seamlessly. And, gauze was found to be very canvas-friendly and its warp and weft made me feel euphoric to paint during the process of layering.

I think my medium has immense possibilities. After all, the texture of the surface is an integral part of the canvas. There is a lot to talk about in the process of my painting. After this process, when a painting has been painted, I do not do anything but flow with the colours that form an abstract. I’ve been in love with this medium for more than two decades now.

Size: 24 x 24 inches

Medium: Acrylic with Mixed Media on Canvas

Year: 2018

AA: You have two Masters Degrees- one in Drawing and Painting from Vikram University (Ujjain), and one in 1995 in Ancient Indian History and Archaeology. You have also completed a PhD in 1999 in Miniature Paintings (‘A Critical Study of Raghogarh School of Painting’). Do you have any anecdotes or interesting stories that might have happened while you were receiving your education? Can you please share with us?

MK: Yes, I’ve done my masters in two subjects and then I completed my research doctorate (PhD). I am fortunate enough to have had great mentors in my journey of education in the History of Art. One of them being, an internationally acclaimed archaeologist and an artist, Padmashree, Dr.V.S.Wakankar, who was known for his discovery of 30,000 years old rock paintings in Bhimbetka, who studied art from JJ School of Arts, on the other hand, my guru Dr O.P.Bhatnagar who was also from JJ School of Arts taught me academics of art and I practised with him for 12 years. My gurus introduced me to various masters of the abstract genre like V.S.Gaitonde, Sohan Kadri, S.H. Raza and R.Dhawan and many other great painters.

I took a master's degree in drawing and painting and then did Masters in Ancient Indian History and Archaeology out of curiosity of seeking knowledge of Indian philosophy, and that’s where I met my mentor for PhD, Dr Sushila Pant who was an expert in aesthetics and tantrism, she was even a classical singer, the disciple of Sangeet Martand Pandit Omkarnath Thakur of Banaras and that’s how I completed my journey of education with a doctorate. Especially the critical study of the Raghogarh School of Painting.

Size: 36 x 48 inches

Medium: Acrylic with Mixed Media on Canvas

Year: 2018

AA: You were a faculty member at JJ...What was your role there and how was your experience? Do you believe art can be taught?

MK: Being a doctorate in painting, I was invited by the Dean of Sir JJ School of Art to teach the history of art to the students of ATD and the department of textile design. It was quite interesting to spread knowledge to various theories of art and history. As per your question, ‘Art’ cannot be taught, only theories and techniques can be taught. Art is a beautiful gift from the universe.

Size: 30 x 36 inches

Medium: Acrylic with Mixed Media on Canvas

Year: 2018

AA: Describe your painting process. You say that you are a medium of the universe...what do you mean by that?

MK: As I’ve explained in the second question, Painting is a spontaneous process, I never decide on any form or object to create the artwork. I am fond of working in this medium since the possibilities are infinite. To be able to understand a given form, to feel the colours and make spontaneous decisions that would work out, in the end, takes several years of practice (Riyaz) and experience (Anubhav).

Size: 24 x 24 inches

Medium: Acrylic with Mixed Media on Canvas

Year: 2018

AA: You grew up listening to various Indian ‘sants’ philosophies and has a deep understanding of spiritual practices. You believe in the concept of ‘nirankar’, or formlessness, which inspires your art. Please talk about this more and how the doctrines of Lord Vithala, Sant Dyaneshwar, and Sant Tukaram have inspired you in creating your art as well...

MK: I grew up in a quiet spiritual atmosphere from my parental background since my father is a strong believer of Nirakar philosophy.

If I talk about Nirakar or formlessness, for me an abstract means a language that is a medium to express my thoughts. For the process of abstraction to take place on a canvas, the inspiration comes from higher forces. An abstract is the perception of visual experiences.

It is a process where you look beyond the obvious. Being a painter, thinker and spectator, I could say, in a course of time, the experience transforms into an art practice and brings out abstraction. Although there are many paths for spiritual liberation which means reaching the ultimate truth of human life. The meaning of abstract in Hindu philosophy is Amarta which means formless or nirakar. Here formless refers to the soul and not the physicality. The doctrines of Lord Vithala, Saint Gyaneshwar or Tukaram have inspired me when I read about their ardent love and devotion towards nirakar.

Size: 20 x 20 inches

Medium: Acrylic with Mixed Media on Canvas

Year: 2018

AA: You have participated in various solo and group exhibits both in India and abroad. How has your experience been different as a female Indian artist?

MK: Being an Indian artist, I found that there are very few female practitioners in the abstract genre, so initially it is quite difficult to carve a niche, but over some time, the entire experience is an adventurous one.

AA: What caused you to shift from figurative works to an abstract style?

MK: Yes, there was a transition from figurative work to abstraction. It was like the transition from body to soul. By practising art, over some time, the philosophy of panchatatva or the five elements began inspiring me. You have to know your lines and forms acutely to be able to use them intuitively in later phases. There was a transformation in my thought process leading to the switch. Earlier I did figurative paintings in the wash technique. I think that’s where my present manner of applying thin layers of translucent acrylic colours comes from. I hardly use thick colour coats.

Size: 24 x 24 inches

Medium: Acrylic with Mixed Media on Canvas

A few of Madhuri’s achievements

1996 – All India Fine arts and Crafts Society, New Delhi.

1995 – Rashtriya Kalidas Samaroha, won National Award for the best entry.

1993 – State first prize for painting, from Devi Ahilya University, Indore Madhya Pradesh Kala Parishad Award.

1993 – Nagpur University, Interuniversity West Zone, won first prize for best painting.

1992 - National Youth Festival, Banaras Hindu University, awarded a gold medal for collage best entry and selected India’s best four young artists, Adjudged by Artist Jatin Das.

1984 – 10th Hindu Conference, New York, Exhibition on the theme “Vasudhaiv Kutumbkam.”

Solo and Group Shows.

2018 – Busan International Art Fair South Korea.

2018 – Group show “written on Water” at Gallery Beyond, Mumbai.

2017 – Solo show “Meditations” at Artisans Kala Ghoda, Mumbai.

2014 – Dual Show at KYNKYNY ART, Bangalore.

2012 – Group show at United Art Fair, New Delhi.

2011 - Solo show “A Wordless Dialogue” at The Museum Art Gallery, Mumbai.

2010 - Charity raffle in aid of sparrow, curated by Anupa Mehta at Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Mumbai.

2008 – “The Path of Liberation “solo show at Jehangir Art Gallery.

2008 – “Sixth Sense” a group show by Arushi Arts, New Delhi.

2008 – Abstracts in the yellow curated group by Red Earth Gallery at Global Arts Village, New Delhi.

2007 – 8th Anniversary group show by Galerie Mueller and Plate, Munich, Germany.

2007 – “Gen-next 2” group show by Aakriti art gallery, Kolkata

2007 – “Past Present unto the future contemporary Indian art” by Dhoomimal Gallery, New Delhi.

2007- Holi 2007 a group show at Gallery Art Room New Delhi.

2007 – “Freedom” by CLMA Gallery, Kolkata at Lalit Kala Academy New Delhi.

2007 – “Dreamscapes” by Kashya Hildebrand Gallery, Zurich (Switzerland).

2007 – Group show “A Confluence of Images” Curated by Jasmine Shah Verma at Hacienda Gallery, Mumbai.

2006 – Annual show of young Indian painters by Galerie Mueller and plate, Munich, Germany.

2006 – Solo show at Dusk Gallery, Mumbai.

2005 –Annual show at CIMA Gallery, Kolkata.

2005 – Colour Therapy at Gallery Jamaat, Mumbai.

2004 – Kala Ghoda Walk-in Gallery, Mumbai.

2003- Gallery Archer, Ahmedabad.

2000- Gallery Leela, Mumbai.

2000- Contemporary Art Gallery, Ahmedabad.

2000- Inaugurated by eminent artist Amit Ambalal and Bhupen Kakkar.

1999- Gallery Pradarshak, Mumbai

1998- Devlalikar Art Gallery, Indore.

1997- Solo show at Mahalsa Art Gallery, Mumbai.

1997- Solo show at Nehru Center Art Gallery, Mumbai.

1996- Solo show at Bajaj Art Gallery, Mumbai.


2018- Artist in residence at Atlej- Am, Sweden.

Madhuri lives and works in Mumbai.

Picture Courtesy-

109 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All