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It is often said by the wise, that sharing one’s knowledge through teaching, is perhaps the best way of propagating it till eternity. Renowned and well-established Delhi-based artist Sabia truly believes in the adage ‘practice makes perfect’, and works on her sketching every day without fail, besides teaching art to young school students.
In a warm conversation with Artisera, Sabia discusses why it’s important to not take shortcuts in life. Here are excerpts from our interview.
Who inspired you to paint? Which artists have influenced you?
My teacher from 8th Grade has been instrumental in me becoming a painter. She told me I’m gifted, and it would be unfortunate if I didn’t pursue art as a profession. I have also been hugely inspired by my guru, the eminent artist A Ramachandran, who has been my friend, philosopher, guide and mentor over the years. He is the one who made me understand the importance of sketching, when he taught me during my MFA at Jamia Millia Islamia at New Delhi. I also love and respect the work of landscape artist Paramjit Singh, who was my teacher at Jamia during my BFA years, and whose work continues to inspire me.
Nature’s elements, earthy colours, and women feature frequently in your artworks. Are experiences from real life behind these nuances?
Being born into a traditional Muslim family in Uttar Pradesh, women, and particularly girls, were mostly confined indoors during my growing up years. Our house in Old Delhi had almost no windows, and because of that, I painted a series on “windows” to depict how important it was for girls to be allowed outside their homes. Besides, I love open spaces, gardens and interacting with nature, and hence, they are permanent themes in my creations. I also love colours, but the technique is to balance their usage while creating a myriad-hued texture. I try to achieve that through my work.
Do you recall a reaction or compliment for your work, that has stayed in your memory?
I distinctly recall how at one of my exhibitions, renowned cricketer Mr. Chopra was so enamoured by my versatile use of bright colours that he expressed his wonder to me. Also, Neemrana’s Mr. Aman Nath, a dear friend and patron, has dedicated a suite at one of the Neemrana properties to my art, and has called it ‘Sabia Mahal’. I take that as a huge compliment!
You typically use both oil on canvas, as well as water colours on rice paper for your paintings. Which one do you enjoy more?
I believe that an artist must experiment, and hence I have worked with different mediums like oil and water colour myself. Working on rice paper is not easy, but I enjoy the challenge that comes with it.
Do you feel there is a difference in approach to painting, between the older and younger artists?
One difference I notice between generations, is that some of the younger artists apply shortcuts, and don’t practice enough to hone their skill. I believe painting is like music; one has to practice every day, much like musicians do ‘riyaz’, to keep improving. I urge young artists to practice more and continuously improve their skills.
What is the most fulfilling aspect of being an artist?
The fact that art speaks so many languages, and is able to reach out to millions all over the globe, is very humbling.
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