While planning her itinerary to Banaras in 2009, Delhi-based artist Rita Jhunjhunwala did not realise that she will be bowled over by the aesthetic beauty of the place.
During her weeklong stay in the ancient holy city located on the banks of the Ganga, Rita felt the urge to capture the sights, sounds and mystical experiences on her canvas. She ended up producing three dozen sketches which were later developed into full-fledged paintings. Now her work is on display at a five-day solo exhibition which began at India Habitat Centre here on Wednesday.
Noting that the exhibition does not seek to promote the holy city as a tourist destination, Rita says she took the excursion to Banaras without any intention of fulfilling her artistic ambitions. “I was moved by the charm, the hustle-bustle, devotion and beautiful sunlight on the Ganga. I drew sketches there and later returned to Delhi. I had to put together an exhibition on the lotus. But at the back of my mind was the plan to create paintings on the holy city. Therefore, for two years I was working day in and day out on this subject.”
Agreeing that the subject she has chosen has also been repeated by numerous artists of different genres, Rita says the challenge was to do something different and unusual.
This was not the artist’s maiden trip to Banaras. She had been there as a child and has some fond memories of the place. “However, when I visited the city as an adult it was a totally different experience…Of course there is a spiritual aspect to Banaras. But as an artist I did not see this place from the perspective of religion.”
Explaining why she has predominantly used yellow in her work, Rita says the colour can beautifully capture the early morning sun. “It creates an overpowering experience. I have also extensively used red in these paintings,” she says.