Inspiring women through art

She used to dispense medicines as a homeopath from her clinic on a daily basis, but her predilection for painting on the canvas took precedence over everything else and she overnight mutated from a doctor into an artist. As a result, the tiny bottles of medicines and paperwraps of powdered dosages were replaced by a brush and a colour palette. Here’s where Dr Balaka Das Gupta came into her own with a newfound identity as an artist. From the cocooned shell of her chamber, she glided into a different world to discover the hidden beauties of life. “It can only be perceived through the vision’s eye,” she admits.
For the past eight years, she has solely concentrated on her aesthetic pursuits. “I was in Delhi before I returned to Kolkata for good. Over there in the capital, everybody knew me as a doctor who ran a private practice and tended to her patients. Even back then, I would draw sketches on the prescriptions, as the wandering mind would often sneak into the world of art. But coming back to the culture-capital ever since, I’ve utilised my degree in Homeopathy only for social causes. As am a Rotarian, (first president of the reputed service organisation Rotary Club, Kolkata), I’ve promptly responded to my conscience call whenever there has been a pressing need of community service. But other than that, I was completely able to immerse myself into all things aesthetic,” shares the gentle samaritan with a smile.
Currently showcasing her debut solo exhibition at the City of Joy’s Gallery Suchitra, Balaka has centered her theme on women and their varied forms. Titled Exhibition 20, her latest creations in mixed media celebrate the female grace, charm and power. Depicting multiple facets, myriad moods and copious hues of a woman’s mind, this self-taught artist keeps her style distinctively simple without going wild and over the top. “I’ve sincerely tried to strike a deep, pervasive chord and not confuse people with an abstract array. The idea was to convey the point - across the board,” she says.
Getting a glimpse of her repertoire, one would easily understand that Balaka has been inspired by the evolution of life through the prism of a woman’s mind and heart. On display till May 18, the exhibition can be viewed by art
aficionados between 11.30 am and 8 pm everyday.
Being a Rabindrasangeet vocalist, Balaka confesses to have Tagore’s influence as an indispensable factor for her creative splurge. “While rendering Tagorean songs and researching on the bard over his vast illustrious works that explicitly employ seasonal imageries, the natural flora and fauna of the world along with their beauteous aspects plus the emotive elements of human heart, it has always subconsciously affected me to the core. Then, when I sit down to let the bristles of my brush and dyes do the talking on the empty canvas, the poet’s thoughts and motifs surreptiously act as a muse to toy with my own ideas and expressions,” she explains as she recapitulates her creative process. In a spontaneous outburst, the next moment sees an outline of a concrete image finding shape on the canvas. This time it was nari-shakti and soundarya seeping into her palette and her canvas. Plucking a plethora of Tagore’s frequently-read verses from his beautiful, flowery poetic-garden, Balaka comfortably places her painted canvases in alignment with the Gurudev’s poems. And thus trickled in She is our Ranjana, based on Amader Shei Tahar Naamti Ranjana; The Never-Ending Daily Conflict adapted from Nitya Nithuro Dwando; Restlessly Different is inspired from Amra Chanchal Amra Adbhoot; Intangible Beauty from Adhara Madhuri; The Colour of Consicousness or Amar Chetonar Ronge; High Hopes, High Aspirations or Baro Asha Baro Trisha; Personification Of All Dreams from Chirokaaler Ashai; et al. There’s feminine beauty which is put on a pedestal to be worshipped, fantasised and looks desirably attractive to the beholder. There is a mother-to-be, a woman who is impregnated
with a baby and forever tied with it through an umbilical chord connection. And then there is this eternal portraiture of a mother-daughter duo and their ever-inseparable bond.
Dedicating six canvases from her collection to the divine ragas that the maestro had produced during his lifetime, Balaka comes up with an oeuvre of paintings based upon raga Gangeshwari (sung between early morning to mid-morning), Palaashkaafi (rendered amidst late afternoon and early evening), Bhawani Bhairavi (morning raga), Jogeshwari (nocturnal raga), Saanjhkalyan (evening raga) and Rangeshwari (between late afternoon and early evening) respectively.
“The paintings are a reflection of the thoughts that associated the ragas, which are performed pertaining to a particular hour of the day. Images of women do recur in the paintings that evoke ragas Jogeshwari and Gangeshwari,” explains the artist.

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