An Interview with Artist Sarla Chandra

In our lives, there are only certain times when we come across such exceptional personalities that they leave a profound impact on us. I also got such a chance to meet Sarla Chandra, a renowned artist for whom her paintings are a form of expression of meditation, philosophy, Indian culture and spirituality. She is a science post graduate in science from St. John’s College, Agra. She has held more than 45 solo exhibitions in India and abroad. Her brush creates magic through different forms and varied themes. Her keen understanding of various subjects and her inner eye are well reflected in the subtlety of her paintings and the spirituality they ooze out. Doing professionally well, it doesn’t stop her from serving the world around her. She does a lot of charity work, especially for the poor children. Sarla Chandra takes time out from her busy schedule and shares some thoughts with TheViewspaper…

VP: Being a Science post graduate, what encouraged you towards painting?

Sarla: Since childhood I was always interested in paintings and study of nature and science. In my biology class I used to scribble some figures with out giving any attention to the class. Several times my teacher noticed and pointed out my diagrams. She also helped me go into depth of it.

VP: What form of training or formal education have you received in order to pursue this offbeat field that few people opt as a career?

Sarla: In 1968, when I settled in Hyderabad, I got an opportunity to see various art exhibitions and was able to work in print making workshops along with other senior artists. I have received more of practical training than theoretical.

VP: What are the forms of painting you have experimented with so far?

Sarla: I have always been an experimental artist. In the beginning I experimented with different techniques; I played with acrylic colours on paper, those days a new French company La Franc entered in the market, I did a whole series in acrylic on canvas showing the terrain of Hyderabad. I have also extensively used metallic foil in my paintings. Other than these, I have also experimented with metal embossing, oil, water colours, parchments and bark from the tress to name a few.

VP: From where do you get the inspiration for your paintings?

Sarla: The source of my inspiration originates in ancient Vedic hymns. I get inspired by the surroundings, scriptures of our culture and try to understand them by meditating. Even while painting, several things come to my mind and I get inspired to put them on canvas.

VP: In your opinion, how have you evolved over the years as an artist?

Sarla: Every person or an artist evolves over the years. I have been able to find satisfaction by imbibing the right thoughts, applying the right techniques, and coupling it with passion in my work. This has kept me focussed on the path of evolution as an artist.

VP: How easy/difficult was it for you to establish a mark in this field?

Sarla: Learning does not have an end like life, I never feel satisfied with my work and I always desire to improve the understanding of my self. Through painting, I have tried to understand a life little bit. This process needs time, perseverance, and hard work. For me, painting is a mode of self discovery so while I have achieved something, I feel there is yet a lot to achieve.

VP: You have held many solo and group exhibitions, what kind of preparations do you make before an exhibition?

Sarla: Before an exhibition, a theme is planned well in advance. After that a place for the exhibition is decided and then a press note and the invite list are prepared.

VP: Who/what has been your driving force till now?

Sarla: My driving force is definitely my hunger to know more about our Indian culture and different religions.

VP: Give us an insight on your current collection, ‘Golden Thread’.

Sarla: My current collection is on cosmic energy which is not visible and is around us in different forms. The basic 5 elements appear in metaphysical forms and flow around like a golden thread. This technique was innovated in Hyderabad using gold and silver foil on paper and canvas which blended with nature and the subject very well.

VP: Your paintings are high on spiritual content. What motivates you towards these esoteric subjects?

Sarla: Perhaps if you are spiritual, you see things in broader context and with more understanding. Spirituality has come to me through meditation and reading a lot of books on spirituality. These iconic forms become an excuse in their rhythmic flows as a meditative experience, connecting with the divine. This magnificent surface builds serene mood.

VP: With several exhibitions and other commitments to keep you busy, how do you find time for all the charity work that you do? What encourages you towards this?

Sarla: If one is accepted in the society with sincerity and honesty, one can find time for things what they enjoy or like the most. It is in my interest and I always find time for this. I feel that I am doing this for myself and sharing my self with the society.

Compiled by:

Shikha Tandon