Strokes of nature
Bheem Malhotra on his watercolour works.
Painting hope Bheem Malhotra.
Watercolour is the toughest medium to work with,” confesses Bheem Malhotra, an artist from Chandigarh who uses the medium on his canvas. “But I also find it the most spontaneous, sensitive and transparent medium,” he adds. Waving his hand towards his paintings, Malhotra, whose works were recently exhibited at New Delhi’s Shridharani Art Gallery in Triveni Kala Sangam, continues, “There is an exhilarating freedom and joy that you experience when using water colours.”
Malhotra, a faculty at the Chandigarh College of Architecture, evidently imports many a nuance from the world of architecture and machinery on to his paintings. He explains, “I combine machinery with nature.Together, they make the most unique and delightful mixture.”
This mixture is apparent in several of his paintings displayed at Shridharani Gallery. For instance, “Old beauty with bougainvillea” depicts a spray of bougainvillea flowers fallen on an old, unused car while “Lost in Past” shows old utensils with pigeons, both no longer of any use in the modern world. His own favourite is “Miles to Go”, where one can see a rickshaw on the roadside with flowers fallen all around. He tells you that the rickshaw would be parked outside his house everyday, but it was not until the flowers started falling that he was moved to paint the scene. A winner of numerous art awards including the AIFACS Golden Jubilee Award in 1997 and Amrita Shergill Award, Malhotra says, “I take up ordinary things to reveal the beauty in them.” Has any painter been a source of inspiration to him? “Only nature is my inspiration,” he declares.
Shimla is one place that has inspired a lot of his work. But the chief inspiration is his own city, Chandigarh, which he likes to portray in different hues. “I want my paintings to project the character of the city,” he states.
Has his artistic journey been obstacle-filled? “Not at all,” he smiles, adding, “I always received a lot of support and appreciation which fired me to go on. I have worked very hard and moved on from small paintings to large ones now.” Malhotra purports that his paintings have hope along with strength. As an art teacher, Malhotra says he highlights the point that “the only way to achieve creativity is to open your mind and see things differently.”
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