Shyamhari Chakra

She was lured to paint by the legendary artist Muralidhar Tali who was a family friend

BHUBANESWAR: Her parents were well-known artists. But she did not opt for art as a career though she used to paint at times. For the past 10 years, she abstained from painting. Yet, as a solo show of her works opened at the Orissa Modern Art Gallery here on Wednesday, the visitors refused to believe that it was not by a professional painter.

Meet Juhi Das Mohapatra, an Uttar Pradesh-based self-made Oriya artist, has evolved her own vocabulary of visual art. And in the process the housewife has shown how creativity needs more inspiration and little qualification.

Daughter of Orissa Lalit Kala Akademi president Jagadish Chandra Kanungo and Jyotirmayee Kanungo, Juhi, a post-graduate in history, a degree holder in violin and textiles designing, was more into academics despite art flowing in her veins, literally. "She was, however, lured to paint by the late legendary artist Muralidhar Tali who was a family friend," reveals her mother. As a result, Juhi had her solo show during her university days.

Second innings

But marriage to a doctor a decade ago distanced this gifted painter from her artists' family and home city of Bhubaneswar. "I was so busy in bringing up my two daughters that I had almost forgot painting for all those years. But once the children grew up and I had leisure as they went for schooling, I thought of doing painting to keep me busy.

However I was a bit sceptical as I had my second innings as an artist after a long gap and I had none to guide me. It was my mother who was my inspiration then. I thought if she can paint even after her retirement, why can't I at this age?," I questioned myself and tried my hand at it.

The exhibition tells the rest tale.

Folk art traditions

"Her art has a harmony of Indian traditional and folk art traditions. Her colour scheme in light and shade coupled with a predominant linearism speak volumes of her future as an artist of substance. She is an inspiration for amateur women artists who fear of losing their creativity amidst domesticity," observes city-based B.K. College of Art and Crafts principal A.C. Sahoo.

"I now paint for pleasure of self-expression and I have no unusual ambitions with art as a profession. But as people appreciate my works here, I have realised that women can strike a balance between their family and career the way I did," she says.