Born in the year of India’s Independence, Delhi-based artist Mona Rai creates abstract artworks that appear to sing a song through each discrete square inch making the whole piece come alive like an orchestra.
Recently on display at Bikaner House, New Delhi, at an exhibition by Nature Morte titled ‘On | Site’, Mona’s works immediately catch your attention, crafted as they are in an intricate, colourful, detailed and mesmerizing aesthetic.
Mona completed her Master’s in psychology from Delhi University while attending art classes at Triveni Kala Sangam, one of the capital’s oldest art institutions. She credits her mother for encouraging her artistic pursuits.
“My mother was a progressive woman. She gave me the freedom to move around and go to parties. She encouraged me to bring everybody home,” Mona narrates.
After completing her education, Mona set up her own studio along with her husband Amitava Das, who is also an acclaimed artist. “It was almost like he became my mentor,” she says, looking back.
The couple held exhibitions collectively until Mona was signed up by major art galleries, the current one being Nature Morte.
Mona tries to capture all that is happening around the world through her work but she allows herself to be fluid in its creation. “Imagining something and bringing it to actuality are two entirely different things,” she says.
“You start going with the flow of the work, whatever direction it takes you. Each step of the painting is a revelation for you,” she describes.
When it comes to abstract art, knowing when to stop is also important. “That’s when the artist realises, I have nothing more left to say. That’s when the final work reveals itself to you. The process is much more important than the end result. That can be a big surprise for you,” she explains.
Mona enjoys using every material she can find – from oils and acrylic paints to flashy materials like gold and silver foil. “I like burning paper with charcoal, cigarettes or electric rods,” she says, adding that she also enjoys tearing her artworks and stitching them together to make something new.
Having visited museums around the world, she is influenced by artists like Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee, Matisse and Francis Bacon, and believes that both men and women artists bring something different to the table.
Mona is still on a joyous artistic journey. She and her husband listen to world music and create artworks in the living room together.
She says, “Normally, after each exhibition, I need rest mentally to restart. But the pandemic has disciplined me. Age is not on my side so I don’t want to waste time on frivolous things. I want to utilise my time, and go on working till my last day.”
First published in eShe’s April 2021 issue
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