CDS: What drives you to select your subject?
AG: My work is all about what I see in my neighborhood. It may be the development of metro lines or the vertical growth in my city and all over the world.
It is happening around me and I am watching it day and night. The change in skyline always makes me wonder, whether the water tanks on terraces are more in number or the towers around each changing lane.
CDS: Your works have trees, pop objects, birds and animals, and the city and its architecture. Can you explain your love for these characters? What do you want to say through these elements?
AG: Yes, I find it interesting how these creatures adjust to human needs. I observe they are not complaining. They are just adjusting to survive by either making nests on high hoardings or feeding on roadsides. We can find monkeys resting peacefully on high terraces while drinking water from those tanks.
Their high energy level inspires me to grab their playfulness, who always tries to pep in the concrete world. This is portrayed through the juxtaposing of green with grey concrete, symbolic of creating a balance between the two.
CDS: Why Printmaking and not painting? What is so special about printmaking that it attracts you? And, what is your technical USP?
AG: Printmaking is a beautiful medium to express. The linear quality and tonal variations fascinate me. There is a mystical combination of technique and image-making. Most importantly, the editions, though limited in number, can be at many places at a time.
In my etchings, one can find the play of tones with aquatint. The subtle and soothing tonal variations make my image complete. And in relief, one can enjoy the linear quality and tones created through lines.
CDS: How to admire your work? Apart from technique, the subject is your key. How would you like to explain your perspective to someone looking at your work?
AG: My work reflects my surroundings. Our environment is for all living beings, whether it is a developing or a developed city. All the elements are correlated to daily life, which reminds us of the basic instances happening in and around us.
CDS: As an art lover, what should I look for in your prints?
AG: Perspective. It has been witnessed from a different point of view through the ages but the approaches are different while depicting perspectives in Indian and Western art/society. In western art, from the renaissance period onward till the expressionist era, the perspective was seen through the fixed window or looking from the distance. Whereas, traditional Indian paintings and miniatures have always fascinated me due to their approach (perspective) of highlighting the main subject through the compositional elements either in terms of size, color, or position in the pictorial space.
With an understanding of both (Indian and Western), I developed the idea of perspective and have been privileged to accommodate both where ever it gives me effective compositional value; to be specific, where on one hand the buildings and roads are adapting westernized perspectives, on the other hand, the ‘Gurraiya’ which is going to be extinguishing species of bird takes the center stage and become the icon of whole species.
I can say that this is something which is my very own and can be enjoyed in my work.
CDS: Lastly, why do you create art? What is your goal?
AG: Art is a language where an artist can take the privilege to portray one’s perspective towards society, surroundings, emotions, feelings, and all the things which are happening around them. It is like my daily diary, what I feel and observe, I try to portray.
Annu Gupta is an observer, thinker, and change-maker. She is a printmaker with additional humane qualities. Her technical brilliance gives a visual character to her emotions.
Her works are thought-provoking, intriguing, challenging, and entertaining, where the message is clear. Her art is for people, by the people in a way. She represents people’s concerns with her unique ability of observation and representation in her perspective.
Born in 1975, Annu Gupta graduated from Motilal Nehru University College, Delhi University in 1996. She did her diploma in paintings from South Delhi Polytechnic for Women, New Delhi in 2000. Later, in 2006 she did her Art Appreciation from National Museum University, New Delhi, and later in 2013, she did her MA in Drawing and Painting from Jiwaji University, Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh.
Gupta has been part of solo and group shows in 23+ in from Jodhpur to Berlin. Her works have created an impact in viewers’ minds and stayed with them for a long time, wherever she has exhibited them. She has been part of many regional and national printmaking workshops. Her collection is with private collectors and public organizations, in India and abroad.
Gupta has participated in some of the major printmaking events in India and around the globe. In India, she has participated in Amritsar, Bhopal, Chennai, Kochi, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai, and New Delhi. Some of the major events like the Bharat Bhawan International Biennial of Prints, the All India Exhibition of Art, the 62nd National Exhibition of Art, Lalit Kala Akademi, and the 129th All India Annual Art exhibition by the Bombay Art Society.
Internationally, her works have been exhibited in Canada, Egypt, France, Japan, Korea, Poland, Russia, Taiwan, Thailand, and some of the major global events like Biennale Internationale De La Gravure D’ile-de-France, The International Biennial Print Exhibit, Biennial International Miniature Print Exhibition, and Bibliotheca Alexandrina International Biennale for miniature graphics, Kyoto International Woodcut Association showcasing the best of Printmaking artists and their practices. Her international exposure, Indian sensibilities, and sync with trends and subjects are universal in their appeal.
She has been awarded several state and national awards including the Prafulla Dahanukar Art Foundation and Delhi State Award for Printmaking, 2018. She was awarded the 91st Annual All India Art exhibition award by the All India Fine Arts and Crafts Society, New Delhi in 2018.
She lives and works in her studio in New Delhi.
Photos and Text © Chaitya Dhanvi Shah