Portrait of an artist

Pushpa Dravid picked up paints and the palette at the age of five, and to this day, continues to create works that are much sought-after
Pushpa Dravid
Pushpa Dravid

If Rahul Dravid has aced the field of cricket, his mother, Dr Pushpa Dravid, has carved a niche for herself in the world of art. She picked up paints and the palette at the age of five, and to this day, continues to create works that are much sought-after. Three of her most recent artworks — ink on paper and a canvas work — are on display at Gallery Duomo on the 16th floor of UB City, at an exhibition curated by Harish Kumar Sejeken. 

“The art space in Bengaluru has changed so much which makes me very happy. When I got married and moved to the city in the late ’60s, there were barely any exhibitions or schools that taught the craft. Now, there are plenty of opportunities and many emerging artists from the city,” says Dravid, for whom art is a creative expression of her thoughts and observations on life and the people around her. 

The artist in Dravid looks for compositional balance, movement and rhythm in murals and painting. Besides canvas and acrylic, she has evolved a method of using burnt plastic that she’s moulded in canvas to create alluring figures. Her first solo exhibition was in 1972 at the Visvesvaraya Industrial and Trade Centre, Kasturba Road, where she displayed plywood panels that she flaked out of wood to create the required effect. “I had submitted 10 of my paintings for the all-India exhibition and received positive feedback for my work too.

The curator at the time, Manikam, asked me why I wasn’t looking for work after having such good qualifications,” recalls Dravid, who holds a Masters degree in art and a diploma in the same. She has recently acquired a PhD in art, a degree she got upon retirement. “My only answer to him then was that there weren’t any opportunities in the city.” She went around Bengaluru, to various schools and colleges as she wanted to teach art. “I didn’t want my 15 years of formal education in the subject to go waste. I wanted to do something with my degree, so I went from schools to colleges, asking if they would have me as an honorary teacher,” she explains. 

After several searches, she was informed of a vacancy for a qualified artist in the department of architecture in University Visvesvaraya College of Engineering. She took up the job in the early 1970s and retired from her role in 2001. “I wanted to pursue many different things even when I had a full-time job, but it was difficult to manage both home, work and additional interests. So, I waited patiently and after retirement, I took up projects that include canvas and mural work,” says Dravid. 

Family support, she says, has helped her pursue her ambitions. “When my children, Rahul and Vijay, were younger, they were obviously busy in their own career paths. But they or my husband, Sharad, never once made me feel like I couldn’t do it. They constantly supported me and never demanded my time when I was working. They were independent and encouraged me to pursue my dreams,” says Dravid, who spent the lockdown painting. “It kept me entertained, busy and I continue to learn with my work,” she says. 

The art exhibition at Gallery Duomo, 16th Floor, UB City, is open to the public from 12 pm to 12 am. This will go on till end of January 2022. For details, call 94817 79670 or 8553647608.

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