‘Anukriti: more than just paintings’ - the title of Anuradha Upadhyay’s art exhibition mounted at Lalit Kala Akademi’s Regional Centre in Bhubaneswar was an appropriate title to her six-day show.Anukriti, meaning Anu’s creations, witnessed the birth of an artist and her distinct debut; it was her ode to the Orissa that inspired her to be an artist and it also celebrated creativity and confluence of fusions of various mediums on canvas.

Anuradha, the self-made artist and a young housewife, hails from Bihar which is known for the famed Madhubani painting tradition and is settled in Maharashtra which is known for its Worli art tradition. Incidentally, she was born in Orissa and is now based in her city of birth after her husband’s transfer to Bhubaneswar. Interestingly, her exhibits were heavily influenced by the Madhubani, Worli, Dhokra, Pattachitra, palm leaf, sand art and tribal art traditions of the three states, the last four forms from Orissa.

“Although I always appreciated art, I never imagined that I will be an artist one day. Just a year ago, I came to Bhubaneswar as my husband got posted here. I attended an art exhibition by a lady at this particular venue who was a housewife and a self-taught artist. It encouraged me to paint and I took lessons from the same art teacher, Bijay Kumar Khatoi, who taught her . I must confess that the artistic environment of Orissa, where I was born, was responsible for the birth of an artist in me,” confided Aruradha who used handmade paper, tussar silk cloth and crab shells as her canvas and painted in acrylic.

She painted mythological motifs like Ardhanariswara, Lord Ganesha, Goddess Kali, Radha-Krishna and Lord Indra, The Buddha and also peacocks, elephants, fishes and damsels in Madhubani style the elegantly painted crab cells that appeared as great works of miniature art bore the classic signatures Worli paintings. The fusion works of Dhokra art and Worli paintings magnified the appeal of several of her creations.

The touch of professionalism in Anuradha’s art work and exhibition belied the fact that she was an amateur artist and it was her very first show. From the tastefully designed invitation cards to the elegantly mounted frames of her paintings, every aspect of the exhibition bore her signature. The exhibition also achieved a rare feat – most of the works were sold out barely two days into its inauguration by Bhubaneswar-based Italy-born prominent Odissi dancer Ileana Citaristi.