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ARTIST OF THE MONTH- SANGEETA BABANI

Sangeeta’s ‘Urban Abstraction’

Sangeeta with Javed Akhtar showing her works

For anyone having the pleasure of meeting Sangeeta, she is lively, cheerful and full of joie de vivre. And this spills over into her art which is richly textured and filled with vibrant colours and meticulous craftsmanship and thought. A perfectionist by nature, her art reflects the work ethos and dedication of the artist with its minute detailing and technical acumen especially in her later works which one might call 'urban abstraction'.


Many of her earlier canvases are a blend of multiple worlds: seascape, idle European villages filled with water, the sky, quaint village houses and cafes and charming people. This is in contrast to her paintings of cities which reflect the world through her perspective as she views that world as it is today. She paints sky-scrapers, cars, people on mobile phones, nudity amidst a backdrop of the hustle and bustle of the busy city life what might be an ‘architectural abstraction’ with themes that touch on a quest to delve into the confusion of the individual with themselves and the relationship with the chaotic urban centres and mega-cities. Many times we encounter her figures acquiescing to the power of the populated mosaic of the metropolis.


Sangeeta grew up in the south-east coast of Spain where she completed her formative and higher education. She has meticulously meshed both cultures of India and Spain in her paintings. She has exhibited her paintings at the prestigious and iconic Jehangir Gallery in Mumbai in addition to countless groups exhibitions and 10 solo exhibitions spanning a career of fifteen years as a professional artist.


Untitled, mixed media

AA: Could you share the process of your painting? Do you visualise the painting?


SB:


“A blank canvas I see unlimited possibilities.”


The nothingness of the beginning that is so simple and breathtakingly pure it is the paint that changes the meaning and the hand that creates the story. I am a lover of colours and empty canvases, and art for me is very autobiographical and comes from within.


AA: How do you describe your journey of becoming a landscape abstractionist?


SB: As artists and Creators we are continuously evolving our work


“Not satisfied to remain static; we explore and experiment.”


I believe we move through development cycles much like the stages of human development. I started as a teenager when my mother enrolled me in drawing classes and it created the foundation for my interest in art. I felt with every stroke and every line I was stepping into a different world- one which did not have boundaries. And that is what excited me then and still excites me now. Thus, the journey and the process has been continuous.


AA: Is there a time frame to finish one artwork? Few days or a few months?


SB: It depends. The mood plays a very important factor in that. Sometimes my painting is completed within a week and sometimes there are paintings that take months. My paintings are very detailed and thus the time aspect is something I am always aware of.


“I am most interested in expressing my perspective of the world as I see it.”


Therefore, you will notice a nexus of urban cosmopolitan motifs and symbols blended with cultural-religious depictions of the place or the feelings. So my paintings stretch the imagination from something as simple as Lord Ganesh amongst the people of India to Urban cities and resorts which are filled with people, umbrellas, water, the sky, boats, houses, trees and balloons, cars, buses and planes. I have done many paintings of cafes and people because I love observing people especially when they are free and are enjoying the small moments in life.


The Journey, 4x5ft, Acrylic on Canvas

AA: How do you feel your artworks are part of eminent collections?


SB: I participated in a worldwide exhibition at the prestigious Grand Palais in Paris 2018

where my paintings were part of a global initiative to showcase the work of contemporary artists from 60 countries. I was also selected as a representative of India for another high profile exhibition; “100 Countries 100 Women” where all the painters were women and I was an artist from India. Obviously, it's exciting and I am always thrilled to be a part of these collections because not only is my work reaching a wider audience but also because I learn so much from other artists and their cultures.


Joyful Moments, 5 x 10 ft.

AA: How have you evolved as an artist since your first exhibition in 1998?


SB: I am bolder now, I experiment more with different types of medium and textures. At first, it feels awkward but eventually, we begin to create marks and paint passages with the facility.


“There is no final phase. You don't reach some evolved state and stay there. It's a continuous evolution.”


Recently, I was commissioned to paint a mural for the historically iconic Otters Club where I did one mural and two paintings. The mural was done in mixed media utilizing acrylic paints, wood, foam, metal and sculpture. For the two paintings, I experimented with resin and resin sand. I enjoy painting on fabric for fun as well as doing interiors and wall murals.


AA: What techniques from your studies of art in Spain do you utilize today?


SB: The most important thing I learned that has stayed with me on my professional journey as an artist is the minimal aspect of colour theory. I love playing with black and whites in contrast with bright colours. That is something that has continued till today.


AA: How is painting a mural, car different from painting a painting for an exhibition?


SB: I think car painting is an extremely challenging and enriching experience for me. I have done live events with people watching and asking questions. The joy of form and colour taking place. I feel it was linked with a lot of curiosity and experiment all around. With canvas painting, it is done alone within the four walls of the studio. It is calming and meditative. They are absolutely different experiences. I enjoy both. The painting of a mural is also very interesting because we are using different mediums. The murals are more complicated because we are adding different elements and with a mural, it's done with a purpose that is outlined in the commission. The mural I painted for the Otters Club depicts the multifarious activities of the club so it had to be interesting and had to connect with the members of the Club.


Sangeeta with the car that she painted

Cut out of Article about Sangeeta, Bombay Times- Times of India

AA: Which Indian artist’s works inspire you?


SB: There are many artists I would like to meet bur if I had to choose one it would be S.H. Raza because I feel his paintings and his career are an inspiration to two generations of artists. I loved his work "The Bindu" which is related to Indian philosophy and represents the centre of all creation. This painting is regarded as a trademark for Raza. So we need to find our "Bindu" which is a point of creation for one's self. Also, Anjolie Ela Menon because she regularly re-envisioned her role as an artist. Lastly, Paresh Maity because whatever surface he may choose be it paper, canvas or any other medium he creates magic. His colours are vibrant. His paintings are bold and have a graphic quality with strong colour and unusual cropping.


AA: Which International artists inspire you?


SB: One is the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo who was a master of canvas and paint and one of the most iconic symbols of the feminist movement. Another name would be, the Spanish artist Salvador Dali continues to be widely recognized as one of the most "odd" artists of all times and I would also add the most loved.


AA: What would you like to be remembered as?


SB:


“I would like to be remembered as an artist who created happy art.”


Where when someone viewed my paintings that someone could forget their worries and immerse themselves in the world I have created which would hopefully give them a feeling of contentment, peace and happiness and bring feelings of joy into their lives.


AA: Do you think women artists have to tackle the art industry differently than male artists?


SB: Women artists despite the strides they have made in the art world are still at a disadvantage because works by female artists comprise a smaller share of major permanent collections compared to their male counterparts.


Illumination, 4x3ft

AA: What advice would you give to someone starting their career?


SB: To be passionate and be positive. There are many low phases and it's a struggle. But if you have a passion for art it is worth it. Art is therapeutic. It is very calming and is one of the few vocations to allow you to express your innermost feelings and thoughts without saying anything and allow the world to view them.


AA: Louise Bourgeois said that art is her way of coping with life. For Pablo Picasso, art was the best way to understand the culture of the world.

Which is true for your art?


SB: I think both. I think art for an artist is the way he or she copes with and understands life as he or she goes through the journey of life and I think his or her art exemplifies an understanding of the dynamics of the world and the motley blend of cultures. Today we live in a world that is a melting pot of cultures thus there is no definitive rule in art as our world has changed drastically especially in this COVID era and I don't think we can take art or life or our understanding of our world as one definition. It is a process we live and we live in our art and through this, we gain insights we haven't thought of or we are able to see differently.


Cut out of Article about Sangeeta, Bombay Times- Times of India

"Through my works, I want to send a message...life comes out of the mind, thoughts mould the world in a direct form through actions and feelings that accumulate and combine with each other and form what surrounds us. Why not surround ourselves with love then?"


A woman of the world and an artist with her own indefinable style Sangeeta adds her own distinctive touch with the stroke of her brush to the world she creates. The emotion of light and happiness emotes the happier side of life through the idyllic and languorous landscapes that make the earth touch the heavens and beyond.

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