INTERVIEW WITH CONTEMPORARY INDIAN ARTIST MADHURI BHADURI
Serene, majestic, uplifting — these are the words that immediately spring to mind to describe artist Madhuri Bhaduri‘s poignant seascapes and landscapes. Across her major series including Reflections, Moon, Horizons and Seascapes, she demonstrates a skilled command of color in bold yet cheerful hues. She does not depict figurative scenes of nature but instead captures the abstract feel of it — fleeting moments of rain, shadows and glimmers of light.
Having exhibited around the world in more than 40 solo and over 100 group shows, Madhuri Bhaduri is certainly an established artist today. But her path to success was an unexpected one, winding from sports to art and from experimentation to her signature abstract style. In a recent interview, she kindly answered a few burning questions about her career, inspirations and artistic process.
What was your childhood like? Did you always see yourself becoming an artist?
My mom was a classical singer, and my dad was a national level sportsman. I was born with a badminton racket! Following in his footsteps, I played badminton at the national level quite early in life, just like him, and I won the doubles championships in 1975, 76 and 77. Then I played squash while studying economics, all before turning my attention to art. In fact, my mother gave away my cups and medals to the kabaddi-wala so only a handful of photos remain as a record. This was back in the days before social media and digital documentation.
But you ultimately returned to art. What inspired you to change your path in life?
I was always fond of drawing, painting and other forms of creative expression in my school days. So I decided to pursue my passion by going for a Master’s Degree in Art in the late 1980s. This is where my journey as an artist began, though I had been painting earlier. My most memorable early encouragements came from Maharani Gayatri Devi, who took a keen interest in my work in the late 70s, and Jamshedji Bhabha of TATA, who personally collected a few of my paintings in the early 80s. In fact, I had my first solo exhibition in 1986 which was inaugurated by the late S.L. Kirloskar.
After completing my Masters in 1988, I got married in 1989 and lived in Mumbai, Kolkata and Delhi, as my husband was in a transferable job. Exposure to the major metro cities in India allowed me to get acquainted with art at the national level, besides allowing me the freedom and time to give undivided attention to my career.
You’ve mentioned your husband and the role of your family at the beginning of your career. Was it difficult to keep up your artistic practice during this time, or did it provide some solace?
My emotional struggles were very deep and complex due to my husband’s suffering from an autoimmune disease. The need to support my family and bring up a small child as an artist was undoubtedly challenging — those six to seven years were the most trying times that I have faced — but it also made me realize that suffering brings out the best in an artist, as it pushes you to go beyond your limits. Art became a great source of emotional satisfaction and solace, at the same time being my profession and livelihood.
I am and always have been a very emotionally charged person, and art became the best way of expressing it. In the soul’s journey, it helps to be self-reliant and to believe in your own self, which in turn makes you more confident to face whatever comes your way. As my only relief, it was this form of creative expression of my spirit, energy and optimism that paved the way for my journey in the art world.
You have experimented with a variety of mediums and themes but ultimately found your niche in abstracted landscapes. What have been some of your influences?
I feel it is good to experiment. The inspiration of my work was actually nature-related till the 1990s. Then I did Indian figuratives, fashion, nudes, clowns and architectural paintings till the 2000s. My first abstract show in 2002, when I debuted my Seascapes series, was pivotal for me. It was the evolution of my figurative work, and my work remains grounded in the same inspirations of nature today.
I have been influenced and inspired by impressionist Masters, as well as Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Klee. The way these painters handle nature and its range of colors, effects and moods draws the viewer closer to nature. From what initially started as floral expressions, the lead themes for my work are now fields and gardens, trees and foliage, mountains and valleys.
What do you find special about abstract painting?
For me, a canvas is not just a visual expanse. It often maps the mood that I am in, and my introspection of my life, feelings and thoughts at that point of time. None of my works is a direct representation of a place, object or memory. Instead, my work is an extension of me — my optimism, romanticism and spirituality. It describes the person I am in the strokes, textures, colors and the subject I choose.
What’s your daily routine like?
I’m a person who lives in the moment — I’m driven by what’s around the corner. I set small targets for myself every morning and accomplish them in the day. I firmly believe that energy multiplies, and that being positive in life attracts positivity. That’s why I love painting as well as exercising — they help keep one’s mind, body and soul in equilibrium.
What’s next for you — what are you looking forward to this year?
My career has spanned over 40 years but the most interesting bits are yet to come! While I have been fortunate that my work has always been received well, I do want to see my work reach a larger global audience. And one thing that I’ve been wanting to achieve artistically is to work with more monumental sculpture.
Thank you so much, Madhuri! Learning more about her personal story, to me it’s clear how the inner dialogue of her mind is what brings such depth of meaning to her abstraction. Nature and creative expression have brought her emotional comfort and spiritual strength, and now her paintings bring this sensation to the viewer as well.
To browse our curated collection of paintings by Indian artist Madhuri Bhaduri, visit https://laasyaart.com/madhuri-bhaduri/. Please reach out to us at email@example.com or 650-770-9088 to view these abstract works in person at our gallery in Palo Alto (San Francisco Bay Area)
— Sonia Nayyar Patwardhan