After teaching and showcasing figurative and abstract art in the US, Sangeeta Reddy displays her work in the city

It’s been a long road home for Sangeeta Reddy, who’s hosting her first exhibition of paintings in the city at Shrishti Art Gallery. The Hyderabad-born artist moved to the US in 1978 and has literally been there, done that in the art scenario before exhibiting her work here. “I moved from figurative to abstract 27 years ago. Hyderabad was inclined towards figurative works, even if borrowed from German expressionism. I wasn’t sure if my work would be received well here,” says Sangeeta, looking around at her paintings, rich in tone and colour.

Reminiscing about her early days, she says, “I had seven years of education in art but only a diploma to show as proof.” Expertise, she believes, comes with honing one’s skills than through degrees. Sangeeta completed her art education at Rocky Mountain College of Arts and design in Denver. “The institute was known for figurative arts. I also taught figurative art for seven to eight years,” she says.

The move towards abstract paintings was not a pre-meditated one. “I was intrigued by the ‘Brahman’ concept and the Advaita Vedanta philosophy. The visual translation of these ideas required me to move towards abstract,” she says. In the beginning, Sangeeta worked with ellipses, squares and vertical shapes to convey a sense of rising.

Over the years, she began using deconstructed calligraphic forms. “Most calligraphy is from the Devanagiri script with an occasional Telugu alphabet. I felt the merging of these symbols evoked a sense of calm like the shlokas,” she says. Calligraphy, she says, are the bones of her paintings on which she hangs colours and images.

Sangeeta’s work is also characterised by bright hues. Gestures in ochre, Glazes in pink, Meditations on rouge and Architecture of green are some of her paintings that rely on colour. She uses colours to add layers and arrive at geometric, almost architectural constructions. In April-May, Sangeeta will be exhibiting her work at the Exhibition of Contemporary Indian Art of the Diaspora – 2013 organised by Indo American Arts Council, New York.

Does the Colorado-based artist plan to host more exhibitions in Hyderabad? “I haven’t decided anything yet,” she says. As much as she loves coming back to her roots, she rues the lack of a museum for contemporary arts in the city.

(Sangeeta Reddy’s paintings will be on display at Shrishti Art Gallery, Jubilee Hills, till February 28)

Monotype, not print

A part of the collection on display is culled out of Sangeeta Reddy’s series in Monotype, not to be confused with Monoprint technique. Monotype refers to painting or drawing in print-making ink. Sangeeta paints on a hard surface such as a sheet of acrylic, transfers it to a pre-dampened sheet of paper through a printmaking press at 15,000 pounds per sq.inch of pressure. “The image, when I work on it, is in reverse. It’s exciting since I don’t know the end result,” she smiles. The artist uses French inks with rich pigments for monotypes.

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