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Scribbles that turn into mountains, tiny circles that become trees, and curved lines that translate into delicate flowers – Ashu Gupta’s enchanting artworks are a true labour of love. With each stroke of her pen beckoning you to look closer and examine the finer nuances of the intricately drawn patterns, Ashu has doodled her way into the world of art, in a style that is truly her own!
Although she picked up art professionally only after getting married, Ashu Gupta was always creatively inclined. Even in school, art interested Ashu much more than academics. “I was never very good at studies. But I was always interested in making diagrams in Biology class! I used to ask my friends to do my work for me, and in return I would draw all their diagrams,” she recalls. Ashu always knew that she wanted to do something in a creative field, so she joined a course in Interior Design at NIFD Raipur, because it was the only creative option available in her home city. She worked as an interior designer for a few years, but even then, Ashu Gupta’s interest mostly leaned towards painting walls and decorating doors; the technicalities of interior design bored her.
Finding Her Calling
Ashu Gupta moved to Bangalore after getting married, and realized that she did not want to continue in a 9 to 5 job any longer. Instead, she wanted to do something on her own, where her creativity would not be bound by deadlines and dimensions. And that’s when her artistic journey began. A chance meeting with renowned artist M.G. Doddamani found her an invaluable mentor, and under his guidance, Ashu found her voice in art. “Doddamani sir didn’t teach me how to paint like him. Instead, he made me realize what I was good at,” she shares.
Ashu Gupta with her mentor, M.G. Doddamani
The Love for Pen and Ink
Ashu Gupta’s exquisite artworks, filled with images that are at the same time calming and energetic, are created using simple tools – pen and ink. Always an artist who doodled frequently, Ashu found herself reaching out to pen and ink more often when her daughter was born. “It wasn’t convenient to paint with a small baby in the house, so my doodling increased. I would sit next to my daughter and draw with pens in my sketchbook, and I just fell in love with the medium. Now, my daughter is 4 years old but I haven’t gone back to paints!” says a radiant Ashu.
Ashu with her daughter, Miraya
But her confidence in using pen only grew after a lot of experimentation, and finding the right materials for her art. “I went through over 100 pens before I found the ideal ones! I’m constantly hunting for good pens, and some that I use have been bought on my travels abroad,” she shares.
Ashu’s love for pen and ink comes from the fact that her artworks are born spontaneously - she can just pick up a pen and start, without having to sketch an image prior to filling it in. The other reason why she loves it so much, is that she cannot erase her mistakes when she’s drawing with pen, which increases her focus in her work.
The World in Black and White
Ashu Gupta’s artworks have a distinct feel to them. She is deeply inspired by nature, with many of her works being depictions of trees. “I am fascinated by trees, because each one is so unique. Capturing that uniqueness in my art is like meditation for me,” explains Ashu.
Landscapes and abstracts also make up a lot of her art, which is mostly done in black and white. Colour, which seldom appear in her artworks, is less important, usually coming in as a background to the main composition. Ashu Gupta loves black and white because she feels it puts her subject in a place of prominence, with nowhere to hide, hence helping it stand out. Each of her artworks take between 15-60 days to complete, sometimes even resulting in her hands getting swollen from the effort!
Once in a while, Ashu gets pressured by people asking her to add colour to her artworks, to which she confidently says, “There is a perception that without colour, an artwork may look dull on a wall. If you think a black and white artwork won’t look good, try putting it up on a wall with a striking colour, such as red, and see how the artwork pops! My works speak volumes in just two colours, and they stand out just the way they are, if framed and positioned right.”
Ashu Gupta with her artworks, at her residence in Bangalore
As an emerging artist who is quickly gaining recognition in the world of art, Ashu Gupta dreams of the day her works will get recognized instantly, for her signature style. She is humbled by the praise she has received thus far, with renowned artists like Basuki Dasgupta expressing their wonder at how she makes her pieces! Ashu’s creative and large-scale doodles have made it to several exhibitions around the country, and she was even shortlisted for Lalith Kala Academy Awards in 2016 and 2017.
Standing at the brink of a promising career ahead, Ashu Gupta exudes a quiet confidence in using a medium like pen, that may not be as popular as acrylics or oil, but is one that she has made her own, and to which she plans to remain loyal in the years to come.
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