Madhuri: The Mast of Abstraction Among Indian Artists

India’s pristine culture and rich diversity have always piqued the curiosity of people across the globe since time immemorial. We fear those things that we don’t understand. Some were unable to comprehend the beauty of Indian art.

That is why Indian culture has faced an undeserved backlash for being artistically free and furious at the same time. Consequently, Indian art was not given the recognition it deserved on the national and international platforms. Now because of ingenious Indian artists, Indian art is receiving an acknowledgement from all the classes around the world.

In this blog, we will talk about the offbeat imagination of one of those Indian artists who have claimed their rightful place in the art world.

Madhuri Kathe: Breaking the Bonds

Once Madhuri Kathe was facing an interview and the interviewer asked what she would have become in her life if not a painter. She answers this question with a gleeful smirk. She has been doing drawing since she was five. Her favourite hobby was doodling in her books. She was more occupied with that instead of taking notes given by the teacher.

According to her, “Drawing just made me happy — I used to lose myself in my sketches. My teachers knew I was not paying attention to the subjects being taught, but they appreciated my talent. And my father strongly supported and encouraged my artistic endeavours.”

Her father recognized her potential and talent when she was young. So, for the purpose of shaping her erratic thoughts, her father introduced her to a Padma Shree Awardee and renowned artist and archaeologists late Dr Vishnu Shridhar Wakankar. He was an established archaeologist too.

She was 11 at the time when she met him. He was having an art institute in Ujjain to which she got admitted. She studied ancient motifs and articles, coins, seals, ancient rock-cut architecture, and cave paintings.

Later, she did her Masters in Drawing and Painting from Vikram University in Ujjain. Following the footsteps of Dr Vishnu, she did another Masters in Ancient Indian History and Archaeology. She also decorated her academic with a doctorate in Miniature paintings.

A good and dedicated student always find good teachers. She found Dr. O.P. Bhatnagar while she was studying under Dr Wakankar and completing her Doctorate. He watered her enthusiasm like a plant for 12 years i.e. he started helping her at a young age i.e. soon after she completed her high school.

She wanted to study art at the prestigious Sir J.J. School of Arts in Mumbai, which is the alma mater of almost every contemporary Indian artist. She couldn’t do so though.

 “At that time, my guru, Dr Bhatnagar told me not to leave Ujjain to go to an art school. He said he saw a natural artist in me and would chisel my life. He had a lot of expectations from me as an artist. I learned so much from him, and from all my gurus in different phases of my life,” she recalls.

Madhuri’s confidence started escalating after her artworks were gradually attracting art aficionados at art shows. One of the most prominent of these art shows where her works were displayed was organized in the year 1992 at Bajaj Art Gallery in Mumbai.

Although, this was not her first encounter with the art world. She received an ample amount of exposure when she was with Dr Wakankar. She recalls that once he took her paintings to Boston for displaying them in a group exhibition there.

He wanted her work to gain international fame. That worked wonders. She says, “After that, my passion, or madness, whatever you call it, soared.” Since then, she has been a part of the Avant-Garde exhibition all around the globe.

She doesn’t fill colors on the canvas, she enlivens it. The canvas starts to live the life of his own after her imagination runs on it through various pigments. When she is asked that what process does she follow or what inspiration compels her to create such marvels, she just says that she doesn’t paint.

She claims, “I just play with colors, and the paintings come to be.” With this, we can understand how her inherent and deep spirituality draws her to make awe-inspiring artwork.

This is beyond a reasonable doubt that she did not taste success overnight. She toiled hard to realize her dreams and fulfilled the expectations of those who admired her. Her life as an individual and as an artist was steady. Her acute observation of the abstract makes this evident that her paintings are shaped by the universal wave that affects us all. She believes in a God who is formless i.e. Nirankar. This sense reflects in her paintings. Some are vigilant and awakened enough to carry it, like Madhuri Kathe, one of the pole star among leading Indian artists.