Brought up in a large joint family in an old Delhi neighbourhood where the old ‘mohalla’-like community spirit was still alive, Ekta Jain felt somewhat desolate after moving to a posh new locality in south Delhi where neighbours barely knew one another.
Without familiar faces around, she took to the canvas to express her feelings of alienation. She taught herself to paint, and began making paintings for her family, such as a portrait of her in-laws as an anniversary gift for them.
Then her son and daughter came along, and the Hansraj College alumna was forced to put the easel away because the babies tended to fiddle with her paints. Instead, she enrolled for a B.Ed degree, and took up teaching.
But the career was short-lived as she grew disillusioned with the school system, where the teachers were often pulled away from classrooms, and burdened with administration duties. “I felt sorry for the kids,” she recalls.
So, she quit her job, and decided to teach children painting instead.
Arming herself with a diploma in art, she also began experimenting with her own techniques, moving from portraiture to abstract. “It is an inner battle that forces you to confront the limits of your own creativity,” explains the sweet-voiced 40-year-old. Attracted to geometric shapes, she uses nuances of light and shade to convey concepts of society, struggle and self-growth.
About a decade ago, her husband Rahul encouraged her to put up her paintings on a public forum. And there was no looking back. Ever since her first solo show in 2012, her work has been displayed at Delhi’s top galleries including Triveni.
She now holds about two shows every year, even though she cries each time she sells a painting because it means giving away a piece of her soul.
She’s also passing on the knowledge, and has about 40 students under her wing, from ages five to 50. “Art makes you sensitive towards all forms of life and nature,” she says, encouraging more people to take up creative pursuits.
Her life’s message is “to spread happiness and warmth,” and Ekta is doing it one painting at a time.