Deep-rooted memories from her childhood days — having watched her mother and other women relatives performing Chhat Puja* — have been beautifully replicated on the canvas. Meet Vandana Dubey, the 47-year-old artist, born in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghazipur district to a government school principal father and a homemaker mother, who says each and every ritual and ceremony of the four-day festival is clearly embedded in her mind since then. We spoke to Vandana who got attracted to the art form after watching her artist husband paint every day. Excerpts:
When did you first think about Chhat as a subject to do a series of paintings? How many works are there in this collection? And how much time did you take conceptualising and creating them?
I first thought about working on this topic in 2010. This is a collection of 21 paintings, measuring 36”x48” and 4ftx4ft. Beginning 2010, it took me two years to conceptualise and research about the subject. I started painting in 2012 and completed in 2014.
How did you get attracted to this subject?
I firmly believe that “traditions are footprints of evolution”. My work subject focusses on Indian culture and tradition. If we look closely, lok poojan is deeply connected to Nature and Chhat Puja is the only one where setting sun is worshipped apart from rising sun. I like the view of setting of the sun. Moreover, concern for environment is growing around the conduct of festivities across cultures and religious beliefs. This puja is completely environment-friendly and cleanliness is a major concern taken care of during its entire period. This fact was the main attraction point that led me to do deep research on the subject and then make paintings.
What was the reaction back home when you told everyone that you wanted to be an artist?
I became an artist after marriage and learned art under the guidance of my husband, Shree Kant Dubey, an eminent artist and an encouraging teacher who taught me intricate details this art form with great zeal. Back home, in-laws and my parents have been encouraging.
The first time you felt the urge to express yourself through painting…
I liked drawing and colouring since childhood days and participated in various competitions with full enthusiasm. After my marriage in 1993, I got attracted more towards this art form after watching my husband draw and paint daily.
Who has been the most inspirational person in your life and why?
My husband. I have seen him work hard day and night to get where he is today.
Who influenced you and what was the motivation behind painting?
My attraction towards my culture and tradition influenced and motivated me to do painting on various subjects related to it and make the world aware about its richness.
What is Vandana Dubey doing when she is not painting?
I like cooking and listening to Bhojpuri ‘Niragun’ music while cooking. I also like travelling.
A day in the life of Vandana Dubey is spent doing…
…painting and drawing and interacting with other artists at my Studio at Lalit Kala Akademi, Regional Centre, Garhi, East of Kailash in New Delhi.
Where in the world do you get genuine art connoisseurs; people who understand art?
At exhibitions, whether they are solo or group and art fairs where audience includes appreciators, critics and art collectors.
Your opinion of the increasing number of art fairs being organised across the country. Would these, in your opinion, help artists?
Apart from creating regional and local awareness, these art fairs are helping artists gain international audience and market.
* an ancient Hindu Vedic festival historically native to the states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and the Madhesh region of Nepal. The Chhath Puja is dedicated to the Sun and his sister, Shashti Devi or Chhathi Maiya in order to thank them for bestowing the bounties of life on earth and to request the granting of certain wishes