Deep in the resonance of an inward journey Pritam Bhatty grapples with the paradoxes that crowd her life. Her painterly quest enters subliminal dimensions where the unreal strongly tilts into the real unleashing a stream of memories, events, fantasies, hallucinations and magical transformations. The fragility and strength of these shifting perspectives metamorphose the psyche and inundate Pritams creative matrix. Her painterly eye tracks these transformations within the inner and outer layers of her being. Working in water colours, charcoal and pencil Pritam captures the epiphany of the fleeting images that surface within her.
In her present body of work her larger aquarelles are energized by an amorphous, enigmatic quality. In several compositions her protagonists seem to be suspended between being and nothingness as they struggle to achieve meaning and equilibrium. Objects and persona are placed within shifting colour fields that grow out of layered, stained grounds. Monumental figures occupy the central spaces in several paintings. Compositionally Pritam manipulates a complex grid of overlaid images that hold the narrative thread that binds her quasi-abstract work. Water colour with its willful elusiveness is a medium that suits her best as it offers her the possibility of creating notations of tentative images as well as the rootedness of some representational elements that she positions in her work.
The void and its primordial stillness provide an expansive abstract hinter ground in Pritam Bhattys work over which her protagonists play and move. Poured and stained pigment and fine colour washes, blotted, scrubbed and erased tonal quotients permeate and define the layered colour matrix of her aquarelles. Quirky and whimsical elements such as bone cages and grids appear randomly in them as in Dawn of Being, Caged Bird Song and Under the Rose for instance. They symbolize rebirth and beginnings as the titles suggest. The bones which are rendered with great refinement and delicacy, have a double edged symbolism of supporting life and signaling death. This duality of the ending and beginning of cycles permeates much of Pritams compositions adding a note of menace to the overall serenity. In them there is a moody melancholic distancing, a sense of waiting and watching the time warp of life that haunts us. In this body of work Pritam embarks on a well deliberated cathartic voyage of terminations that in turn engender possibilities of growth. In the process of this journey Pritam devices symbols that reflect its underlying purpose and her need to excavate the truth and heal old wounds. Her aquarelles are underscored by an air of fragmented dislocation that silently permeates them. This old passage of cathartic erasure and seeding of new imperatives of growth and transformation in itself becomes a narrative element in the understanding of Pritams painterly struggle as she encounters the beast and the sacred that repeatedly cross her path. Pritams questioning stance and her concerns are well expressed in the duality of the diaphanous, gossamer fragility and the strong sensual, life-giving expansiveness that the medium of water colour brings to her work.
Pritam Bhatty speaks of these painterly images and visions as rising out of her un-summoned. She permits them to inundate her being. However, it is undoubtedly the hidden depths of her subconscious being that subtly preoccupy and dominate the strong painterly quest she is engaged in to understand the circumstances that besiege her and her need to image their meandering progression. Deep within her the psyche maps the inner terrain she traverses and there are no easy answers to her struggle. As she paints Pritam works her way through a gamut of catharsis that are imprinted subtly in her work. The enormity of the task of finding truth and meaning in the decoding of the inner labyrinth she often finds herself encountering and overcoming filters continuously into her work. It gifts her the freedom to move on to further excavate the inner terrain, to rediscover herself and set the course of her own transformation in terms of her creative aesthetic as well as her personal growth. It is as if she sheds skins to know herself better.
The restlessness apparent in Pritams earlier paintings has now given way to a greater consistency and equilibrium. Although much of her work is still in flux and touched with the quixotic presence of surreal, cannibalistic creatures, webs and bone cages, tortured forms and contrastively contained serene figures, heads and winged men, there is now a well tuned sense of purpose and direction that have been put into place in the construction and delineation of her compositions. Pritam is now decidedly at ease with the surreal, whimsical forms that her artists eye evokes. In fact she revels in this quirky freedom of inverting form and leaving unfinished imagery that has its own story to tell. To sustain the enigmatic nature of her pictorial language Pritam pours the pigment and stains the paper constantly drying and reworking its surfaces, creating varied textures and nebulous tonal washes. She manipulates the flow of pigment, blotting away excess. In effect, Pritam engages in a technical lila, play, of material and mind to achieve the complex ideas she so passionately wants to express in her work.
Despite the contained grief and menace that underscore some of Pritams aquarelles that include The Beast Within, Under the Rose and On A Cold Winter Night and the ambiguity of Lullaby, where a giant insect overshadows a vulnerable woman, there is a full fledged note of hope, of escape and rejuvenation present her imagery that slyly indicates the fact that liberation and freedom constantly beckon to her from on the horizon. With all Excess Baggage bundled and abandoned in a pale blue conglomerate of worn memories and events Pritam chooses to soar with the Optimist, the winged flying fish with its human head and body that moves in a upward trajectory against a soft grey-blue sky cushioned with clouds. The Tree bursts with germinative energy, while in Rose Bud a child gazes steadily from behind a pink veil. It is in Aftermath and Bloodlines though that the fine-tuned compositional elements she manipulates and refines display a delicacy and surety of technical virtuosity that emerge strongly through her present work. A more mature painterly vision now permits her complex ideation to find an aesthetically sound stylistic interpretation. The refined treatment of the compositional detailing, the smudged tonal washes, the voluptuous sweep of the void achieved through the dexterity of the application of overlaid washes of pigment, the impressive portrayal of the head and lyrical handling of the faces all amount to a confident maturing of her technique and ideation.
The humour and understated menace of Come Into My Parlour is a well delineated instance of Pritams depiction of the traps that are constantly set and reset for willing and unwilling victims! Perhaps this work exemplifies the degree of ease with which Pritam now works with water colours. She has a full range of technical nuances to deepen the impact of her paintings. The pouring of pigment and staining of the paper create troughs and mounds within which the diaphanous, expanding space and the delicate lines of the web seem languorously hanging in the clouded, sensual, padded depth of the surrounding vegetation. The curious and fatal attraction of spider, victim and web become metaphors for the cycles of seduction and entrapment that we have to encounter and avoid throughout the very act of living.
In decoding the labyrinth of her inner and outer being Pritam Bhatty has empowered herself to tell her stories with dexterity and finesse. She now strides her world with confidence and understanding, knowing the value of the compassion that follows the distancing of oneself from all the trials, triumphs and challenges that inevitably clutter our lives. With this body of work rendered in water colours, charcoal and pencil Pritam has opened the doors to a deeper perception of the inherent strength of survival and a liberating power of mastering the magical capability of weaving new myths. Sumitra Kumar Srinivasan…Read More
1982 Diploma in Fine Art from Sir J.J School of Fine Art, Bombay. 1990 Solo exhibition of drawings and paintings at Art Heritage Triveni Kala Sangam, New Delhi 1991 Solo exhibition of drawings and paintings at Cymroza Art Gallery, Bombay. 1993 Participated in a joint show of drawings and paintings with Alka Sanadi Tyagi, at Cymroza Art Gallery, Bombay 1993 Participated in traveling show of Indian artists organized by SAHMAT (Safdar Hashmi Artists Trust) New Delhi. 1996 Solo exhibition of drawings and paintings at Cymroza Art Gallery, Bombay. 1997 Participated in a women artists group show of paintings and sculpture to commemorate 50 years of Indian independence 1947-97 1998 Participated in a group exhibition of oil and water colour paintings of contemporary Indian artists, Dubai 2000 Participated in a group show of etchings at Cymroza Art Gallery, Bombay. 2004 Participated in Women by women group show. ICCR New Delhi 2004 Women artists on Amrita Shergil, Tashkent and Moscow 2004 Women on Women at the Bangalore International Art Festival 2004 Mind of a Woman, group show at Art Chamber, Galeria de belas Artes, Goa 2005 Group show, South Africa, organised by ICCR New Delhi 2006 March Solo show at Gallery Beyond, Mumbai 2006 May Group show Summer Rites, Gallery Beyond and Dusk, Mumbai 2006 June Participated in group show Water for Life, Cymroza Art Gallery Mumbai 2006 July Attended Artists Camp at Oberoi, Mumbai 2006 July Participated in Group show for Cancer Patients Aids Association, Cymroza Art Gallery, Mumbai 2006 August Group show at Lalit Kala Gallery and Art Konsult, New Delhi 2006 October 35th anniversary group show at Cymroza Art Gallery, Mumbai
2008 Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai 2008 New Delhi,…Read More