Born – 1958 at
A poet in her own right and an artist, Sangeeta Gupta started her artistic journey with intricate drawings. Her real calling was discovered in her abstracts in oils and acrylics on canvas. Her solo show in 2002 with Kumar Gallery launched her love for contour within the abyss of colour; the works seemed to stir both within and without and splash off the canvass. Her tryst with art is born of her own meditative ruminations in time, the undulating blend of calligraphic and sculptonic entities are all realms that she has explored with aplomb.
Images in abstraction that harkens the memory of Himalayan journeys and inspirations, the works speak of an artistic sojourn that continues in a mood of ruminations and reflections over the passage of time.
Sangeeta wields the brush with finesse, suggesting the viscosity of ink, the glossiness of lacquer, the mist of heights, the glow of the sun, and the inherent palette of rocks when wet. The canvases bespeak surfaces akin to skin, bark and the earth.
Her first solo exhibition was at
She has received 69th annual award for drawing in 1998 and 77th annual award for painting in 2005 by AIFACS,
Ode to a woman possessed – Sangeeta Gupta
There is something irresistible about my friend Sangeeta Gupta. Ever since I met her, on that memorable 1st January 2000, I have been enchanted by this multi-talented lady.
The occasion that caused us to meet was her exhibition of cacti on canvas. Although she had exhibited earlier, this was her first exhibition of oil paintings. In fact, it was the first time she had done any work in oil at all. Thus far, she had limited herself to drawings. I was unaware of these facts when I made my way around the exhibition hall, bowled over by the quality of the works on display. The cacti and their flowers were deceptively real – evoking the urge to touch them and feel the thorns and petals. It, therefore, came as quite a surprise to me to learn that Sangeeta was a self-taught artist. Drawing and painting just happened to be a passion that she pursued next to her otherwise very engaging job as a senior officer in the Indian Government.
Our relationship soon developed into a warm friendship, which gave me the opportunity to witness from up close Sangeeta’s development into a serious artist. Her foray into oil had been a gratifying one: the exhibition’s visitor book was filled with wonder and appreciation. She still continued to make her intricate drawings, but now spent the majority of her non-working, waking hours on producing oil paintings. Given the success of her cacti, one would have expected her to further explore the realm of realistic art. However, it soon became evident that her real calling was to the field of abstract art. I was fascinated to observe the natural transition from her barbed or woolly ovoid and spherical cacti into the abstract forms and shapes that dominated her 2002 one-woman show in
In many ways, the 2002 exhibition was a point-of-no-return for Sangeeta. It was in these works that she first showed her love for colour: the works seemed to splash off the canvas. They were bold and yet inviting. It was almost impossible not to smile while looking at them, so full of life were they. She also firmly established ‘her lines’. I think it is fair to say that Sangeeta is quite obsessed by lines: undulating, straight, hair-thin, broad, opaque or translucent – she has explored them all. The myriad of tiny lines that made up drawings such as ‘The inner face of reality’ series (1999-2000) often made me marvel at the condition of her back, as I saw her hunched over her drawing board for hours at a stretch. Working in oil, this extensive and exhaustive line-drawing practice paid off beautifully. Her solo exhibition in Mumbai at the end of 2002 was an excellent manifestation of the power her lines can convey - as Keshav Malik rightly said in his introduction, Sangeeta has ‘an instinct for movement’. In that same introduction, Keshav Malik also said that ‘this time around she represents nothing’. It was the beginning of Sangeeta’s artistic transition to the arena of pure abstract art.
It is often said that pure abstract art is only for the initiated, an acquired taste - both for artist and viewer. In Sangeeta’s case it was an inevitable development. Being the deeply spiritual person that she is, her inner world is not inhabited by matter or form. Inspired by the teachings of Swami Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo, not to forget her adored Guru from Kolkata, Sangeeta uses her canvases as outlets for her abundant spirituality. And it shows! Many a viewer - including myself - has stood in front of one of her pure abstracts with unexplained emotions boiling up. The works seem to touch a chord in people of all backgrounds and origins. There is a sudden recognition, which startles because it is so unexpected. You feel embraced and absorbed by the work. It doesn’t leave you. You look at it time and again and yet it never grows stale. Each time it is new, yet it is familiar. Every works seems to represent an organic unity. A work like Nocturne which featured in her solo exhibition ‘Highrises of the Inward Eye’, held at her patron Kumar Gallery in April 2004, is an outstanding example. Her solo exhibition ‘Concordances’ at Kumar Gallery, held both in Delhi and Mumbai in 2006, further confirmed her talent for making a canvas come to life with purely abstract impressions.
Objectively seen, Sangeeta is a short person. Having observed her in her studio many times though, I have been mesmerized by the fact that she appears to grow and expand when at work. She confronts her, oftentimes enormous, canvases with an ease and intensity that is truly awe-inspiring. Drawn back into herself, she is at one with her brush and palette. Her power of concentration and clarity of vision about the end-result are wonderful to watch.
Equally wonderful it is to observe the naturalness with which her mother, son and anyone else of her close-knit family who happens to be passing through
Where will the artist Sangeeta Gupta go next? Wherever her spirit will take her - I’m sure. I for one, will be most eagerly observing, and no doubt enjoying her every move. It is not often that one meets people of her caliber, and with this I don’t only speak of her painterly skills. For most of us, one line of activity is all we can do justice to. Not so with Sangeeta. Not only does she paint like ‘a woman possessed’ (her own words!), manage a demanding career and law study, she is also a poet of acclaim, a very involved mother, a caring friend, and still finds moments to spend quality time with orphans and battered women, spreading joy wherever she goes.