Art allows me to rediscover myself
Rajkumari Sharma Tankha
For artist Neeti Aggarwal, painting, besides being a passion since childhood, is akin to meditation. The Hardwar-born artist, who recently did a show of her works in the Convention Foyer of India Habitat Centre, New Delhi, says art allows her to rediscover herself “and creating art gives me immense personal gratification. I don’t paint to be an artist; I paint just because I love doing it.”
“Though I loved art since childhood and used to dabble in sketching regularly, I had never thought of taking it up professionally” says Neeti who lives with her investment banker husband and two sons in Gurugram. “As my father, an engineer with a public sector company, was in a transferable job, my schooling has happened in quite a few cities. I have had the opportunity to live in different cities, imbibing cultures from different corners of the country,” says Neeti.
After completing her graduation from Lady Irwin College, Delhi University, Neeti did her MBA in finance. “Thereafter, I joined The Economic Times where I worked for five years as research analyst. During this time, I got married and had my first son. In 2000, a new chapter started in my life when I shifted to Singapore. It was then that I took a break from work and got the time to reconnect with my love of art,” says the artist, adding, “while I continued my education from career perspective and completed Chartered Financial Analyst course (CFA) from USA, I started sketching and painting more earnestly. I did a few short courses and workshops with artists to hone my skills.”
By 2007, when she moved back to Delhi, Neeti had started painting regularly and creating her original artworks. “Yet I always felt I was missing some requisite technical details in my paintings as I had never been formally educated in art. Hence, I enrolled in a three year diploma course in fine arts from a private college in Delhi. This course was a significant value-add for me, courtesy my teachers and classmates. There has been no looking back for me since then. For the last eight years, I have been regularly exhibiting my works,” she says Neeti whose mother is excellent at embroidery and from her perhaps, Neeti says she must got a good perspective on the combination of colours and an appreciation for art forms.
Ask her who has been her inspiration and Neeti says, “Frankly, there is no one person who I would like to name. In fact, when I had started my education in fine arts which was rather late in life, I did it for passion and not with a specific objective of becoming an artist. I had never imagined I would be able to scale these heights. My teacher, Mr Prithviwasi, helped me significantly during my education to improve my skills. After completing my art education, I have just continued to pursue art as my love and passion. It is the comments, love and appreciation that I get from the viewers, friends and family that keeps me going,” she shares.
Neeti feels her once hometown Delhi is one of the biggest centres for art and culture in the country; a city that promotes different art forms readily and its residents lovingly lap it up. “There are quite a few avenues and platforms for artists to demonstrate different art forms however contemporary and varied they may be. I have seen the appreciation for art among the people go up gradually over last few years, increasingly greater number of people have started developing an interest in collecting and displaying good artworks. That said, among a significant section of common public, including high income group, I still find a reluctance to spend money on art. While many people would not think twice before spending money on expensive designer clothes, I see a hesitation towards spending that same amount towards art. This could stem from a lack of understanding of art or from not recognising the value that art brings to their life. I also feel that the art market in Delhi, like many other sectors, has borne the brunt of demonetisation recently,” adds Neeti who targets to paint for about a couple of hours every day but it is usually on weekends that she is able to devote longer hours.
“I work mainly with acrylics on canvas though I keep exploring other mediums in my free time. Besides acrylic, I like to work with mixed media in layers to create a visual depth and interplay of light and colour,” she puts in, adding that it is possible to sustain as an artist though the journey is often long, arduous and not always successful “Having an alternate source of income gives an artist the freedom to be truly expressive of his/ her feelings, away from pressures of ‘saleability’ of his art,” she feels.
Talking about her works at IHC, she says, “I have worked on a series called Divyebodh where I focussed on spirituality. But other than that, I have not made a conscious effort to add spirituality in my paintings. Yet most of my viewers feel it still gets reflected in some of my works. With each painting I strive to innovate and express a unique thought, frequently associated with love, relationships and discovering oneself, and the changing facets with passage of time. Most of my paintings come with a composition that gives a feeling of self-content and peace.”
Besides painting, Neeti loves to read and travel. “My love for travel has taken me not only across different corners in India but across numerous countries and continents. The experience of myriad forms of nature, culture and values during my travels often bears traces in my works, though almost all my paintings find their roots in strong Indian value system and beliefs,” shares Neeti.
Connect with the artist on http://www.neetiaggarwal.com/
Mystic Expressions at Beanstalk, Galaxy Hotel, Sec 15, Gurgaon, September 2013
India Habitat Centre, Convention Foyer, November 2013
Reflections, India Habitat Centre, Convention Foyer, July 2018
Lalit Kala Academy, New Delhi, May 2010
Franchise India, Ashok Hotel, New Delhi, Dec 2010
AIFACS Gallery, New Delhi, May 2011
Prayog, Delhi Collage of Art, Grand Mall, Gurgaon, August 2011
Art Mart, Epicenter, Gurgaon, September 2011
Exhibition at IREO sales gallery by Finesse Art in Gurgaon and Ludhiana, Dec 2011
AIFACS Gallery, New Delhi, May 2012
Two artist show at India Habitat Centre, Convention Foyer, Nov 2012
Group show by Art Nouveau at Lokayata Art Gallery, Dec 2012
Group show by Art Nouveau at The Pinnacles, Gurgaon, May 2013
Group shown by Tad Arts at Hotel Courtyard Marriott, Gurgaon, May 2013
Small is beautiful, exhibition by Art Nouveau, 14-15 March, 2014, Epicenter
Melange, a group show of contemporary art, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi, Dec 2014
Anubhuti, a group show, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi, March 2016