Her, whose oeuvre is the ‘mother’land

She fawns over everything old, which is but a priceless gold after all, and needs to be treasured for life. That’s what distinguished artist Sunita Kumar assumes at the unveiling of her latest collection of paintings titled, India. Travelling around the length and breadth of her motherland, this septuagenarian painter offers a salutation to her country in a colourful tribute. Lending a panoramic view of India on her canvas, the artworks ensure a celebration of the vast country through its people, history, culture and ethos. The long array of over two dozen specimens — to be put up on display at The Promenade Lounge of Hotel Taj Bengal in Kolkata — can be extensively viewed by the public from February 25 onwards. The much-agog aficionados may indulge in a leisurely dekko at this gallery splurge to be remained open till March 3 between 11 am to 10 pm, daily.
“I’m showcasing my works after a hiatus of two years. The last exposition happened at London in 2011. I tour across India only to project its diverse places as the principal subject of my oeuvre. And yes, Kolkata particularly finds a special place in the row as I’ve grown up in this city and still live here,” she shares.
Rendering an afterthought, she muses with a hint of nostalgia trailing in her voice: “Besides, the universal Mother (Teresa) whom I was very attached to is immortalised in spirit in every denizen’s heart over here. How can I leave my Mother and go elsewhere?”
Even today whenever she pays a visit to the Mother’s House, she can still feel her silhouetted presence there. While her portraits of the Mother bear faceless images. When quizzed on this abstract depiction of the beatified soul, the author of the tome Mother Teresa of Calcutta and its second edition, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta explains from her own perspective. “She resides in my mind and her picture is drawn in my imagination. Hence, I won’t be able to lend definite eyes to her face, neither can I outline her other features. She is a saint after all. A benign, divine soul.”
Having been blessed to be a close associate and confidante of Mother Teresa for about 36 years until her death in 1997,
Kumar still continues her position as a spokeswoman for The Missionaries of Charity as well as her bond with the co-workers of The Order. Many of her paintings’ themes are thus centred around Mother Teresa and are highly inspired and influenced by her persona.
Reflecting on the City of Joy, she also suggests that the city is still warm and accepting in its embrace, no matter how a flurry of cosmetic changes brings about in its cosmopolitan look on the exterior facade. “But deep inside, the core is still streaked with an old world charm,” she insists. “Revisiting the good old moments gone by is eternally refreshing. It is a detox no doubt. And I personally enjoy reading period romances or watch black-and-white cine-classics from the 40s-50s’ era,” she elucidates. The Hindi movie-music with the erstwhile matinee idol Dilip Kumar or an evergreen Dev Anand or the screensiren Sharmila Tagore has unfailingly fascinated her to the celluloid.
“I’ve known Rinku (Sharmila Tagore) for long and she’s been a dear friend. So I’ll be a bit partial with her (smiles),” she reasons for her choice. While Satyajit Ray’s and Mrinal Sen’s Calcutta have attracted her to their art of capturing and portraying the city through their camera lens, Kumar fancies that “in reality too, wish Kolkata was dabbed in stark white. For it would look best in that hue which stands as a symbol of purity, pristineness and cleanliness.” But is she touchy about the tinges of grey and black. “Aren’t those shades well taken care of by the detrimental pollution-effects? You see, it’s a big fallacy that the white is badly soiled by dirt and dust the most. Trust me, it’s not that serious,” notes the veteran Lahore-born artist, who nurses a soft-spot for a subtle palette and earthy chromes.
“Becasue it’s simply soothing to the eyes. So my brush will always look for those muted colour-tubes,” she dispenses her inclination.
Preferring a quiet and a serene ambience suitable for her creative process, Kumar paints at her spacious verandah
overlooking a lush green lawn, bedecked with potted plants and petals. And not to mention the chirping of birds perched atop the trees and the buzzing bees on flowerbeds to keep her
company. “Well, I don’t mind their presence at all,” she adds gleefully. And sometimes, this music-lover switches on some harmonious tune to enable her ideas smoothly flow with its cadence, only to find fruition of its expression on the canvas.
As the guiding polestar of hope and peace forms the cornerstone of her paintings, the list of pieces ranging between 20”X24” to 30”X36” in dimension comprises courtyard, saris, blue trees, elephants, Mother Teresa’s room, monkeys, royal elephant, Kali temple, hutments, avenue of trees, rose, swings, Raj Bhavan, Nirmal Hriday, Shishu Bhavan (babies), a train to Darjeeling, children bathing, dancing girl, three elephants, red
landscape, Humayun’s tomb, Lord Krishna, a
herd of cows, Lodhi Tomb, Golden Temple and Qutub Minar amongst others on the catalogue.
With a probable exhibition on the cards for the Pink City Jaipur, seems like Kumar is ready to unleash a Rajasthani red in her forthcoming exhibit.

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