‘Life is for celebration,’ says artist Rekha Rao

Bengaluru-based artist Rekha Rao talks about her upcoming solo exhibition

Time and again artist Rekha Rao has emphasised that colour is her forte. Her upcoming exhibition in Bengaluru comprising a selection of her work over the past 10 years is testament to her ethos.

“There are layers of colour in each of my paintings and at first glance, they may seem colourful. However, closer observation will show each painting does not have more than two main colours,” says Rekha Rao.

Curated by Renu George of Gallery Time & Space in Bengaluru, the 35 to 40 canvases, drawings and fine pen sketches on display have been inspired by various events and incidents from the artist’s life. Rekha, who shuttles between Bengaluru and Mumbai, says, “When I look at the canvas, something occurs in my mind and I begin to paint. I don’t plan the colours, I just think of the subject or a concept and then what happens, happens.”

”Poetry and literature inspire me nowadays and I believe that life is for celebration. If one were to look at all the bad things that are happening, one would only feel depressed.”

Like her 2019 series titled, ‘Melancholy State of Happiness,’ Rekha says there is more to each canvas than meets the eye, in this show too. “At first glance, it may seem a bright, cheerful picture. But if you have the patience to look the piece closely, many ideas and thoughts come into your head which may not be all that pleasant.”

Rekha, who works primarily with acrylic and oils on canvas and high-quality paper, also dabbles in digital art. “Technology has opened up newer ways for artists to express themselves and it is exciting. But at the same time, working with canvas and paper has a charm of its own that technology cannot recreate — rather like writing by hand and keying into a computer. What is created on canvas cannot be replicated, even by the artist.”

Hailing from a rich legacy of Indian art, Rekha who pursued art history at Elphinstone College in Mumbai says the Jahangir Art Gallery was a favourite haunt of hers as a student. “On many days after college, or sometimes even between classes, we would just go and sit in the gallery which was a prominent place for artists from all over India to come and exhibit their work in those days. By the end of four years, besides a degree in the History of Art, I had absorbed some of the best and most beautiful work of the time.”

“Today, my studio is filled with paintings and I am blessed to be able to spend my days with books, art and music.”

A solo show on the select works of Rekha Rao Hebbar will be on display at Gallery Time and Space from Jan 8 to 17, 2022.

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