Pune-based artist Madhuri Bhadhuri has hardly been in the city lately. She’s been traveling domestically and internationally to either participate in exhibitions, festivals or to learn more about art. We visit her new studio, launched last week, to have a chat with the artist about completing four decades in the field.
No points for guessing that the ‘M’ stands for Madhuri. Located in a quiet bylane off Range Hills Road, on the third floor of the building named Anant, Bhaduri has categorically displayed her work. You enter to be greeted with her paintings in all sizes. While her colour palette has usually been warm, with maroons, navy blues and greens from the darker end of the spectrum, her paintings now explore lighter hues. What struck us most is a painting in white with tonnes of grey.
One also notices the quirky furniture designed by her. There are sculptures in the corners and a huge trunk of a tree growing out of the floor, which Bhaduri sculpted with Plaster of Paris. Colourful squares dangle from the branches that seem to hold up the ceiling.
The adjacent room has a range of cushion covers with her latest art work on display, along with some candle holders, lamps and some fun figurines.
Forty years of art
Bhaduri started painting in 1977, and within nine years, she had her debut exhibition in Balgandharva Art Gallery, where she sold 45 out of 60 pieces in three days. “I didn’t have a struggle as such. Although painting is the way I earn money, it is my sole profession, it was a passion for me then, just like it is now. I was fortunate to have the chance to do what I like, specially something as theraputic as art,” says Bhaduri, who believes that the process of painting helps calm her nerves.
“I am a ‘high voltage’ person. I work out once or twice a day, I paint whole day, I love to experiment. I’m never satisfied with one thing, I feel like I should try something else. This has led me to try different mediums and forms,” she adds.
Bhaduri has also been a badminton player in her early years. “Artists are very emotional and sensitive. Some people ask me ‘how come I’m not like other artists’. I think it’s because I’ve been a sportsman, it has made me strong, independent. You see, when you’re on the court, you have everything against you and you still have to play your best. Sports has helped me harness and control my emotions,” says Bhaduri.
Melange of mediums
The job of an artist is to manifest an idea or an emotion in whatever way they can. Why should an artist then restrict themselves to a particular medium? Though she is primarily known as a painter, Bhaduri has been doing metal sculptures since the turn of the millennium. “When I bought the place in Twin Towers, in the city, back in 2000, I had a scrap metal sculpture made. I assisted the sculptor and learnt the craft.
Ever since then I’ve been trying my hand at it, but have never exhibited or documented my work before. Now I am making sculptures with fibre glass and I want to do it in bronze too,” she says, adding, “Artists also need to experiment, they need to keep moving out of one dimension into another. The form can get different nuances, I think. You can play around with it and let your mind free. One thing has led to another, and that’s how I started Alchemy.”
A collection of figurines made with used tubes, knobs, bits of metal and just about anything that can be recycled, made by Bhaduri, is called Alchemy.
Studio to studio
Her first studio was in her mother’s house. When she got married, and stayed in cities like Kolkata and Mumbai, she turned her living room into her studio.
“A studio is a very important place for an artist. They want to paint in a place which is close to them. Because you want to get up at any time, and the first thing you want to see is your painting, it suited me to convert my living room into my studio. I used to mix paints on the table because nobody would be home,” says Bhaduri.
At the end of the ’90s, when she shifted to a flat in the Twin Towers, she had a separate studio space where she worked for many years and now she has launched Studio-M.
Starting with nature in the ’80s, Bhaduri moved on to figurines in the ’90s. Presently, her style is a synchronisation of many forms, including these two strong elements.
“I think abstract comes to you slowly. With time your form starts diminishing and your thoughts change along with the form of the element which you take from nature. I keep going back to the figurative part of my life again and again. I revisit everything. My work in sculpture is figurative,” says Bhaduri.
She believes that everyone has a split side, and she is certain that the notion applies to herself because her birth sign is Gemini. Her sculpture of a human head, with a deep, intense, colourful side is a representation of this concept.
“For yourself, you are one person, and to others, you are different. It’s probably due to the way we are brought up. My mother always used to tell me, ‘If you’re in a bad mood, please don’t come out.’ It’s not that you can’t have a bad mood, you just can’t show it to people,” says Bhaduri, who believes that one’s aim in life should be to be happy.
“Life is so pleasant, and you have to make it more pleasant if you can. There’s so much light in my paintings, because everyone has their bad moments but it’s not something you have to hold on to. You have to move towards the light,” she adds.