Kanika Shah: From water colours to woodcuts
Blending various media and constantly evolving her style, Baroda-based Kanika Shah is bold when it comes to experimentation. Kanika pursued her undergrad in painting and postgrad in graphics from MS University Baroda. She has exhibited her work nationally and globally and has won the Dr. Iwasaki 1 Prize in the 6th Kyoto International Woodprint Association (Kiwa-2011), Japan. The energetic youth pours her energy into constantly reinventing herself; from paper to print-making, water colours to installations, she has tried her hands at it all to great success. Her sketchbook, she says, is an important part of her creative process. She sketches and makes notes of all her daily observances and then reviews the book at regular intervals to scout for ideas that may be developed into a largescale.
Pouring over her sketchbook, she also considers about the most ideal media to bring the selected ideas to fruition. She largely works in water colours and woodcuts. She recently also tried experimenting with cyanotypes. Her prints are marked by bold lines and the use of vibrant colours. Mostly depicting female forms, the thematic representation of Kanika’s work often revolves around the issues of gender. Take for example her 3D paper installation called “Clouds.” While the orange and beige paper structures create a strong visual impact, the inherent message that the artist wishes to convey is also of significance. Kanika says that the installation depicts the identities of women that are in many ways as fleeting as clouds; from being a daughter, a wife, or a mother, a woman’s role is undergoing constant flux. You can find more of her works here.
Deepika Sakhat – Taking inspiration from nature
While many artists are inspired by nature, Deepika’s journey is such that she gives more emphasis to the creative inspiration derived from nature in her work. Deepika complete her undergrad from Vasai and later moved to Baroda to study at MS University. Moving from the chaotic life of Bombay, travelling to quiet and pristine regions of India, followed by making her base in the beautiful city of Baroda, Deepika has had vibrant professional trajectories that have continuously influenced her to adapt and evolve. She prefers relief and her chosen medium for this technique is to use forex cuts or sun boards.
Hers being a versatile medium, she likes to create variations of lines and patterns; she noticed that she transitioned to creating bolder lines while pursuing her masters. Regular visits to art galleries in the city also informed her work. During the lockdown, with no setup for woodcutting, Deepika took to inks during the pandemic. She has created a series of intricate and multi-coloured patterns of birds during this period. “There are a lot of birds where I stay. I hear different sounds and try to visualize the vibrations to create forms,” she says. Follow her works on this space.
Pradnya Khandgonkar – Voicing gender concerns
Pradnya Khandgonkar hails from Nanded in Maharashtra. She completed Masters in Fine Arts in Painting from Nagpur University and is based in Baroda since 2014. Her preferred medium is water colour; she often uses rice paper and has an affinity towards earthy colours. Her most recent works, ‘Lonely Eater,’ ‘Hope seed,’ ‘Origin,’ and ‘Wait and Watch’ are themed around the pandemic and the social upheavals it has wrought on. She is passionate about nature and many of her works revolve around environmental crisis and large-scale destruction of natural habitats owing to unplanned development. She is also vocal about social issues revolving around women’s safety and these sentiments are evident in works such as ‘Birth of Earth Goddess,’ ‘Virago,’ and ‘Game of Life.’ In one work, a woman dressed in camouflage suit, with multiple hands, each holding a weapon, depicts the precarious state that women live in these days.
In another, a cactus – bearing flowers – carries a seed and then in another work of the same series a woman takes birth from the cactus; these are Pradnya’s ways of showing how life is full of pleasant moments and painful ones. Other recurrent visuals are those of eye and clocks that she uses to demonstrate changing viewpoints. She says that her working process is rather spontaneous and it often surprises her how the empty canvas takes shape into the final product over a number of impromptu iterations. “It feels like a magical gift,” she says as she talks of the joy she feels when she finishes a work. She has won several awards and has had a solo show in Pune in 2018; she has participated in numerous art shows across the country as well and is hoping to to tide over the epidemic with more productivity. It is a tough period, but there is always inspiration for art, she says. Find more of her paintings here.
Durga Das – Conveying suffering through printmaking
Born in Bankura, West Bengal, Durga Das completed his undergrad studies with a focus on printmaking from Indra Kala Sangeet Vishwa Vidyalaya in Khairagarh and went on to pursue his Masters in Printmaking from M.S. University of Baroda. He is well-versed with techniques such as etching, aquatint, lithography, dry-point, mezzotints. From working on large-scale pieces during his time studying in Baroda, he has now moved on to experimenting with mini-prints as well. His most favorite media are etchings and aquatints because he believes these can produce aesthetic lines, textures, and tones that enhance the work. Recurrent themes of suffering mark his works such as ‘Devastate,’ ‘Hazards,’ ‘The Night of ’84,’ and ‘Unceasing.’
One sees bleak canvasses with hands reaching out to nowhere, mournful eyes, and machinery in the works that juxtapose development, disasters, and helplessness. Durgadas often goes to sites of mass tragedies and takes photographs that later inform his work. He has been well-received and his efforts have shown results in a relatively short span. He has exhibited his work in numerous shows in India and abroad including the prestigious HIDA-TAKAYAMA International Contemporary Woodblock Prints Triennale 2017, Japan, International Print Exchange Program, 2017, that was exhibited in 11 countries, Mini Print Group Exhibition, 2016, Portugal, International Mini Prints Berlin, 2018, Berlin, and the 8th International Print Art Triennial, 2019, Bulgaria. You can find more of his works here.