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Healing strokes
April 11, 2013 COMMENT comment
     
Healing strokes
By Priyanka Chakrabarti
 
Delhi-based artist Archna Jaideep Singh took to art as a form of therapy. She says it healed her not just emotionally but physically as well. The lively colours reflect my own personality that is multidimensional. I am a diehard romantic.
 
Artist Archna Jaideep Singh never imagined that brushes, colours and canvases would become an integral part of her life. Born in the vibrant state of Rajasthan, she developed a strong passion for paintings since childhood – making designs to adorn the walls, floors and ceilings of her house, a practice which is very popular in Rajasthan. "Art is an indispensable part of my nature. I have been painting from the age of four, and instinctively knew that art would be my constant companion to keep me happy," avers Singh.

However, it was a grievous turn of events that led her to look at the world of colours more seriously. "When I was 21 years old, I suffered from rheumatic fever, which incapacitated me
from being physically active. I had no energy whatsoever but my brain would work on itself and invariably, it would take me in a direction of hopelessness," she tell us.

She then took up painting as a means of therapy. Although her illness made her weak and fragile, she did not let that dampen her zeal to live. "When I started painting, I forgot about my illness and a feeling of joy encompassed me. I couldn't stop thinking about effervescent colours and interesting forms. And this gave me solace from my inner world that was sad," shares the artist. Through her paintings, she took her sufferings and transformed them into her identity. Since then her central purpose in life revolves around creating beauty in the midst of all the ugliness and crassness. "During illness, one's inner world becomes grey and stark. I was no exception. I felt depressed and wasted away. Painting then propelled me to add colour to my inner landscape to beautify my imagination and to create joy with in me. And this process worked as a therapy to my sad world of illness," she smiles.

Speaking about the therapeutic aspects of art, the painter is of the firm belief that art is beneficial for everyone. "Whether you participate in it as a spectator or are actively involved as a creator, getting involved in any activity of art – be it painting, music, sculpture, cooking, et cetera – takes you away from a mind that has tremendous capacity to take you downhill, if it is not engaged in positive creative activity. Art can even heal criminals because it brings out in an individual personality the gentler and the healthier side."

The painter grew up in Rajasthan and believes that the artistic culture of the state shaped her outlook towards art in the most affirmative way. "Rajasthan is a land of colours though the actual landscape is very stark, exactly like my mind during my sickness," she quips. "The artistic culture of Rajasthan made it easy for me to make use of different colours. In fact, it taught me to bring art into my day-today life," she adds.

Other than art, there are various other things that keep Singh busy. Her day begins with a plan to do something constructive, be it painting, writing, reading, teaching or even taking care of an ailing person. "At the same time, I like to spend some time to beautify myself by keeping myself fit. I take care of a daughter who is 12 and have some interaction with my husband who constantly inspires me." Elaborating on her interests, Singh goes on, "At different stages, I have had different subjects of interest. During my childhood, I loved making animals like camels, elephants and other animals that are prevalent in the art of Rajasthan. Later, in my adult life, I moved towards figurative works and from there, I moved to painting female nudes and later, male nudes. Now, at this juncture, I feel that to express myself, I do not need to incorporate animals or humans to express my deepest self, though they are very dear to me. I have now begun to paint more of abstracts. The colours and their interplay induce ecstatic joy and euphoria in a new way. This is how I am constantly discovering and reinventing myself."

Singh filled her canvases with water colour in the past, "but I feel that no media is out of bounds. Anything can be used to make art. My earlier exhibition had oil paintings and in the forthcoming exhibition, all works are done by acrylic on canvas."

During her formative years Singh found her role models in Rabindranath Tagore, Amrita Shergill and Nandlal Bose. "I also admired paintings of Kangra School of Art and Kishangarh School of Art," she adds.

However, when it comes to her favourite artists, Singh adores the work of NS Bendre, B Prabha, Georgia O' Keeff e, Mark Rothko, Paul Gaugin, Vincent Van Gogh and Skye Taylor. Singh's paintings reflect a vivacious colour palette. While describing her own work, she avers, "The lively colours reflect my own personality that is multidimensional and colourful as I am a diehard romantic. My work essentially celebrates the beauty of life."

Her solo exhibition Colours and Strokes will be held soon at the India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road, New Delhi. "The upcoming show is a collection of 27 abstract paintings. In these abstracts, I portray my innermost emotions that go beyond words, form and space through the play and amalgamation of colours, strokes, fingertips and touch. I enjoy the direct interplay of colours on the canvas with all 10 fingers of my hands," she concludes.

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