February 23, 2015 12:41:46 am
Life came full circle for Neena Singh a few years ago. Artistically inclined from a young age, she dreamed of studying at JJ School of Arts in Mumbai. Her family, however, wanted her to have a structured education, so she ended up pursuing a degree in Sociology and later aced the civil services examination. Today, Singh is a commissioner of income tax by day, but by night, she picks up the brush, a talent she has been nurturing for more than a decade. The irony was not lost on her when she found one of her catalogues as course material for JJ School students.
Singh is ready with her new collection of abstracts, titled “Revelations”. The exhibition, which will open at Jehangir Art Gallery in Kala Ghoda on February 24, marks her tenth solo show.
A self-taught artist, Singh says she was initially conscious of her lack of a theoretical understanding of art. “I would spend weekends browsing through small bookshops in Fort, picking up exhibition catalogues of Akbar Padamsee, MF Husain, VS Gaitonde and Ram Kumar, and studying their work in great detail,” she says. But her first exhibition, “Serendipity”, at Jehangir Art Gallery in 2006, gave Singh the confidence to show her work more regularly. Since then, her work has hung on the walls of various city galleries, been selected twice for the National Exhibition of Art, Lalit Kala Akademi, and also travelled to international galleries.
Her current work has light textured tones and powerful brushstrokes of greens, blues and reds, a shift from her earlier, darker works. “My paintings used to have activity in them. Now there is more space and less chaos,” she says. Singh paints mostly oil works and watercolours that range from bold abstracts to landscapes. She stays away from classifying her work into a certain style, a fact that was noted by artist Sanjay Bhattacharya during her last show at Crymroza Art Gallery in 2013, when he praised Singh’s work. He said, “Female artists’ abstract works almost always bear evidence of the feminine theme or use it as a motif. To see Neena attempt abstracts on such large canvases is commendable.”
The 53-year-old credits this ability to her job. Working out of a small file, looking endlessly at numbers and protocols, Singh lets loose when she paints. After a rigorous day of work, she enjoys that with the brush on canvas, there are no rules and no structures. “It’s meditative. I escape to my canvases to let my imagination play out.”
Singh’s latest exhibition, “Revelations”, will open at Jehangir Art Gallery, Kala Ghoda, on February 24
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