Print making-A surprise game
Kavita Shah was awarded a prize in drawing competition when she was in her 2nd standard. It was announced in the school assembly by her class teacher and she felt “Oh! I am a big artist” and she grew along with that thought. When the time has come to join the college she had to make a choice between home science, economics and fine arts. She talked about her journey in this interview with me-
You like the fine arts more, is that the reason for coming into this field?
Not exactly, I was not practicing any great drawing continuously. I enjoyed Economics subject very much. I liked Home science also. But my mother said, “to look after the house and cooking I can teach you. You wanted to become an artist throughout. Join the Fine Arts, why home science”. And we have been living in Baroda. To get a seat in Baroda fine arts was any way a happy thing to happen.
Have you enjoyed after joining the Fine Arts course?
I joined B.A painting. I did not understanding anything to begin with. Other students around me were practicing painting before joining this course itself. We were told in the class that, regularly found painting subjects as lady with water pot kind of popular art, is not an intelligent art and was rejected in Baroda Fine arts. We had a teacher, Ms.Nasreen Mohemmedi. She taught us how to enjoy any subject, object how to observe for its colors, lines and enjoy and in similar sensitive way how to transform that into drawing and painting. She put us to practice art that way. Meanwhile I made friends with other classmates. Then I started enjoying the course.
You are known for your print making art….
After completing B.A in painting I joined for Print making specialization in 1983. Not many girls were taking this subject in those days. Rolling the press, working with Litho stone was very laborious. I was the only one in my class. Once I understood and got into the practice of working with these techniques, I started enjoying in this medium more.
I understand you practiced print making in the studios outside the country also?
Yes. I visited and worked in many foreign countries as well in India on invitations and fellowships. There are some problems in printmaking methods. This medium is not much known like painting and sculpture where the facilities can be made individually. Printing press is expensive. There are international print makers associations. I become a member in those. I felt like opening a similar platform for print makers in Baroda. I started Chhaap studios in 1997. It started with an idea of offering studio to those who wanted to work in print making medium. We did many workshops also through Chhaap. We started exchange programs and residencies later. Artists from other countries come and work in our studio. If they are aware of any new techniques, they offer to teach those in workshops for the art community here
Can you share some notes your art works?
There are as many challenges and surprises in print making medium. It is a long process, starting from drawing to transferring that to the plate, and taking the print. There can be unforeseen changes. Once the process begins, I get involved completely. Because of so many surprises in between, this process looks like a game. In a way I can say I like that surprise element.
Print making process involves toxic materials like acids also. Nowadays new techniques and methods have come in the field. Now I am conducting workshops to work with nontoxic materials and to avoid toxic materials.
I think many artists have left print making field because of the difficulties involved in this field.
Art market does not encourage prints. Art collectors do not want to collect prints. I conducted an exhibition “Foot Prints” a decade back. I collected the prints of women artists working internationally and exhibited them. Participating artists were right from my teachers to my generation artists. I asked everyone the same questions, what are the problems they are facing working in this medium.
There are many design patterns seen in your work.
When I was working in Bhopal printmaking studio, we worked with tribal artists for a workshop. They work with designs and motifs most of the time. I was very inspired looking at their work. There is a design and pattern in our lives also. There is a pattern in every one’s style of working, thinking. I started working with patterns because of all such thoughts.
Tell me few works of yours that you liked the most.
My work starts from one thought and enters into another thought, there is continuity invariably. Once I worked with a theme on ‘box’. I have shown 3 stages of boxes. 1st is empty as we come to the earth empty handed, 2nd stage, there are objects in it, there are beautiful objects like flowers also in the box, as we collect and accumulate in life, 3rd stage is empty again. This theme indicates not only life, boxes also give a hint about capitalism and consumer market. Another theme I worked and exhibited is ‘King & I’.
What are your further programs on Chhaap?
Every activity is clubbed with funds. I have to first think about funds for planning any program.
You are taking Chhaap also to the distances along with your art, successfully handling both. Congratulations Kavita.