Hemavathy Guha is a name many would like to relate to because of her dedication to art, willingness to experiment with various mediums of expression while dealing happily with day to day struggles of life. Space is what we all need in order to stretch our creativity to another level. Her theme at “Desi Canvas” is “Space” where she has stitched on buttons to the canvas with needle and thread to create works titled ‘Starry night’, ‘Nebula’ and ‘Inner space’.
In stark contrast to her earlier works that focused on social issues and used figures to express her thoughts. Now not only has the medium changed but also the content and the effect on the viewer. The works seem meditative and spiritual, although the artist shared that it wasn’t really her intention. Herein lies the evidence of the existence of 2 distinct dialogues that exist with art. One when the artist is creating the art work and the other when the work is on display and the viewer engages with it. They never are the same and don’t necessarily have to be. Art speaks.
Ashish: What is the story behind you becoming an artist?
Hemavathy Guha: I was interested in drawing and painting right from childhood. I enjoyed looking at the pictures, photographs, and drawings in the school textbooks rather than reading the texts.
Ashish: What inspires you to put your energy into art?
Hemavathy Guha: I think the inspiration comes from within. Visual art be painting, drawing or sculpture is a language through which artists convey their feelings. I think the urge to say something through the medium of art makes me put my energy into it.
Ashish: What materials do you use in your paintings?
Hemavathy Guha: Apart from oil and acrylic colours, I also use recycled materials like buttons, needle and thread and old newspapers in my paintings.
Ashish: How have you evolved as an artist? (your journey so far).
Hemavathy Guha: I began with paintings in college just like all other artists. But due to lack of space to store finished paintings and also because I had a small child who would sometimes spoil the paintings, I took to the medium of printmaking which I could do in the printmaking studios of Garhi artists village. The scientific aspect of printmaking also attracted me. Here, I worked in the various tenets of printmaking like etching, woodcut, and also experimented combining the various mediums and using different kinds of papers. I worked in printmaking for nearly 15 years although I simultaneously I was trying to find a suitable vocabulary in painting also. In between, I did conceptual works and print installations which I exhibited. In 2004, I went to Canada to work in the printmaking studio in St. Johns as a visiting artist in residence. The printing presses and other accessories in the graphic studio in Garhi were never in good condition which created a lot of hassles for me and I shifted towards the medium of painting from 2005 onwards. I extended what I was doing in B&W in printmaking to painting and continued till 2012. From 2009 onward, I also did a lot of social art projects in the form of blogs, artists books and also made short video films. During 2012, a creative blockade occurred and I could not create for nearly six months. I fiddled with materials and mediums and finally the right calling. It was like going back to the roots as I started working with materials which I had used as a child. I now work in mixed media paintings using buttons, needle and thread on canvas. I continue to undertake community art projects and make short video films.
Ashish: Who is/are your favorite artist(s)? And why?
Hemavathy Guha: This is a very difficult question to answer. While in college, we are fascinated by the impressionists and their works, it might change in later life. I had admired the works of Indian artists like Anupam Sud and Arpana Caur apart from Hussain and Ramkumar.
Ashish: As an artist what do you think needs to be done in order to reach out to more people?
Hemavathy Guha: In order to reach out to more people, perhaps, exhibitions should be organized in alternative spaces.
Ashish: What differences do you find in the audience of India and abroad?
Hemavathy Guha: I think the purchasing power is more in the hands of people abroad than in India.
Ashish: Is art limited to some classes in India? if so, what are the reasons behind it?
Hemavathy Guha: Yes, art seems to be limited to certain classes in India. Maybe people still think that it is elite or they think anybody can do it.
Ashish: How do you see the economics of art in India?
Hemavathy Guha: Since it is economics, it will boom back again.