Himadri Bhattacharya on his approach and his exhibition, now on in New Delhi.

Himadri Bhattacharya began his career as a humble artist from Midnapore, a small town in West Bengal. Today, his work stands proudly displayed at the Triveni Kala Sangam in New Delhi. ‘Under the Cobwebs', an exhibition presented by Art inc., showcases some of Bhattacharya's more recent works, displaying his skill and finesse as an artist. The brilliant insight and depth of his paintings make it impossible to believe that the artist who painted them had no formal training. Excerpts from a chat with the artist whose exhibition is on till January 2.

Tell us a little about how did your relationship with art begin began?

There is really no distinct answer to that. I picked up art and painting even before I learnt the alphabet. From a very early age, I used to sit for hours pottering about with clay and paints. It was almost like a symbiotic relationship and it helped me grow as a person. Since I was good in academics, I soon had to start concentrating on studies and a career. My upbringing and background is very humble and art as a profession was not really an option that time. So I joined a course in hotel management and got a job before an art critic spotted my potential and encouraged me to pursue my calling. I was then taken to Triveni Kala Sangam and after that there was no looking back. I finally quit my job six years ago and decided to concentrate on my art.

What would you say has been your biggest inspiration?

The inspiration comes from within actually. The passion I feel inside to create something is my driving force. If I had to name someone or something other than that there is only one name that comes to my mind, Renu Rana. An art critic and curator, she has always been extremely supportive. She is truly someone I could name as my inspiration.

You've often cited Ganesha Pyne as someone you idolise. What about his work do you most admire?

I appreciate a lot of artists, like Rameshwar Broota, but yes the first and foremost name is that of Ganesh Pyne. His technique along with the subdued colours he uses and language of his work really speaks to me. I identify with not just his paintings but his personality as well. He has maintained a low profile and is a really humble man; the dramatic element he brings together in his work is also something I really admire.

Tell us a little about the exhibition of your recent paintings, ‘Under the Cobwebs'.

I mainly explore human relationships, not just between individuals but also between societies, in all my works. The idea of human beings working at these relationships really fascinates me. The way we conduct ourselves, with every man having a million facets to his personality, has been the focal point of my works. There is always more than meets the eye. That's what I want to bring out through my paintings. The masks I use in my work are powerful motifs that bring out the many faces of human nature. This exhibition is about this as well, and I've tried to further explore human beings and human relationships in these works.

How does the fact that you've had no formal training in art affect and influence your work?

I feel that having no formal training in art has actually helped me a lot. It has kept me from being confined to a particular style. It keeps me free and helps me explore newer aspects of creativity on my own. That said, I would like to add that though I haven't had any formal academic training in art, I have had many great artists guiding and helping me, especially at Triveni Kala Sangam.

How has the reception of the exhibition been so far?

The reception has made me happy, I wouldn't say I'm ecstatic but then I shouldn't be either, since there is a long way to go. It is an ongoing process, actually a never ending process, and so far, the reception by critics and art enthusiasts has been great.

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