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VASUNDHARA BROOTA shares a glimpse of her artistic process with Aashna Abrol

Updated: 5 days ago

Vasundhara Tewari Broota’s artworks meander on a substrate that is layered with plural concerns, celebrations, and renewal. Charged with the psycho-political presence of the female body in a patriarchal society, traditional landscapes, still life, figurative paintings describe her passionate and provocative oeuvre.


Broota was born in Kolkata in 1955 and at the age of 15, she had moved to Delhi. Academically a graduate in literature from the University of Delhi, she simultaneously studied art under the artist Rameshwar Broota (whom she later married) at Triveni Kala Sangam. Broota has exhibited in several national and international exhibitions, fetching many reputed awards, and donated her work in charitable art shows.


Discussing various elements of her artworks, I realized how the yogic-feminine is entrenched in her method, manner, and style.


Title: Keeping it Together

Year: 2018

Medium: Acrylic on canvas

Courtesy of the artist


Title: Untitled

Posted on Facebook by the artist


AA: In your artworks, metaphorically does nudity mean being natural or undaunted in the face of gender inequality?


VB: It is the natural form that interests me and I am not addressing the issue of gender inequality. I paint to express what I feel. As I draw, my expressions take shape.


“To me, the body is more expressive and interesting devoid of clothes.”


I relate to the female form more than the male. This is why my paintings have the female form.


Painting is equivalent to expression. I do not paint with an external perspective. Mine is an inward gaze. I find a kinship with organic forms.


Title: Untitled

Medium: Oil on Canvas

Courtesy of the artist


AA: What are the most important concerns and subjects that you have repetitively painted? And how do you transfer them on your canvas?


VB: It often starts with an initial form and gradually and successively builds up into a whole picture. For example, I start with one part of a body or a flower or a petal that leads to the next, which begins to create a story. I do not start with a preconceived narrative. It is the initial form that I pick, that resonates with me, which determines the journey of my work. This is the creative process, which I enjoy. Compositionally speaking, I do various sketches sometimes with variations till I arrive at what I want. Initially, I worked with rollers and stencils and there was no moving back once the ink was rolled on to the paper. The technique was immediate and conclusive and I enjoyed the clarity in composition. Often I visualised the composition in my sketchbook and then the attention was focused on fleshing out the idea and building the work with sensitivity., The emphasis on clarity changed when I returned to oils and acrylics.


“I need to experiment and evolve and stay stimulated.”

The painting awarded at Hindustan Times Imagine Art Festival

Posted on Facebook by the artist


AA: In many online biographies, it says your works are 'psycho-political existence of the female body. Do you mean how women have become the centre of the political game that changes the social paradigm?


“My figures do not portray women in the role of the victim.”


I believe in bringing out the positive, strong, resilient, and confident aspects of her more than anything. The ability to be natural and not to resort to any kind of artifice is a sign of strength and power for me.


That time, when people would ask me, I would say, it is a natural thing! Painting as a profession involves expressing yourself to the world by working from your studio. When you have extreme freedom to express yourself, you hold to your aesthetics without interference and this matters to me a lot.


Vasundhara Broota experiments with various mediums, while specifically focussing on her dialect of creativity. Her canvases may feel like they are on the edge of perceived abstraction but they titillate our senses with the simple form of a woman that may exceed our expectations. Observing the extremely stretched yoga-poses by a singular woman or many women, we know it either as a vision or a living norm, which purports a dream of every modern woman: an undying inspiration as well as an aspiration.


Title: Untitled

Medium: Ink on Paper

Size: 70 x 55

Courtesy JNAF, Mumbai


AA: One of your works has an obscure figure with black hands. While I see your colourful artworks, I am intrigued about this transition. Or it was just one of the experiments?


VB: My initial work was with rollers and stencil, which was in black and white with minimal colour. I have worked on 22 x 30 and then 30 x 40 paper where the background would be jet-black. It was that period where I did a lot of my work in black and white. I would take a figure, dismantle it, and then I would abstract it. They would be seen in parts.


I enjoyed working with a printing machine and this was made of different grades of sandpaper. That is how I got the dots. It was an experiment. The colour came later when I started working with acrylics. Gradually, colour took over.


AA: Could you share a bit about your latest practice?


VB: I have been trying to work with shaped canvases. The shape of the canvas came from a sketch I created. Two of those paintings are currently being exhibited. In both canvases, the figures are in yogic postures.


One work with two mirror figures in the Natraja posture, one leg on earth and the other up in the other world is composed of rose petals. There is a spiritual connotation of fragrance, and the rose petal symbolises a connecting of the material with the spiritual.


“Once the painting is done it is open to interpretation.”


The images come from a deep connection for me but when it is up for viewing many other layers are added by the imagination of the viewer.


For me, yoga brings a connection of the material with the spiritual.



Title: A page from my sketchbook

Posted on Facebook by the artist


Broota’s practice is not static but it seeks a movement, which is personal yet universal. These concerns or opinions or suggestions are not of one woman but the entire notion of the feminine. I am sure that these distinct forms successfully enhance the sustained gendered voice of social and cultural history.

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