People Colours are an important part of Gitanjali Sukumar's art

Gitanjali Sukumar is tall, chirpy, and so cheerful that art is the last thing you associate her with. But this 23-year-old, is a daughter of a scientist and says she showed no inclination of inheriting the “genius” genes. “Biology is the only subject that I have ever loved. But my parents never discouraged me. Instead they, especially my father, encouraged me to pursue arts. My sister makes up for it. She is into physics and maths,” she laughs. Gitanjali is so passionate about art that she has got a tattoo of her own art work on her foot and her hand.

Gitanjali started sketching and painting at the age of four and she went on to study at the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath (CKP), after which she took off to Australia to study fine arts at the University Of South Collage Of Fine Art (COFA).

“It had to be Australia for me. You know the Great Barrier of Reef, the sunshine and… I have to have sunshine you know. I like to be in bright happy places so that I can create something,” she adds. She says she was the only Indian in her batch. “It was there that I learnt to use various textures and also use sand, resin and so on in my work. The teachers there taught me how to mix acrylics with oils,” she recalls. “There is so much more materials available in a vast range that it makes you push boundaries as an artist and helps you discover a great deal. I have brought back a lot of art material from there.”

Gitanjali also gives credit to her teachers in India. “I did my schooling at Rishi Valley and feel that the teachers there encourage you to take to arts. Even the ambience is so beautiful that I would be inspired by the very surroundings there.”

She says that she started with realistic paintings and landscapes in water colours and later shifted to abstract and oils and acrylics. “I have spent most of my time in Mudumalai as my father studies elephants. So nature has inspired me a lot. It was at CKP that a friend of mine introduced me to oils and I have never gone back to water colours ever since,” she laughs.

With most youngsters taking to modern art will not the traditional Indian art die?

“No way. Like I said I was the only Indian in my batch and I seemed to be the only one who would use colours in my paintings. Vibrant shades are very much a part of my work. That I think is my Indian touch to my art,” she says.

Her first solo exhibition at Alliance Francaise is on till February 22 and is hosted by Vivid Kreations, where she has displayed about 30 of her works. “It is ok, if you don't understand art, I will be here to explain anything people want to ask me,” she assures us adding: “Parents should encourage children to take to art. You know it can be a profession now.”