I started to paint because I felt the need to express myself in a new medium. As a child I used to write very philosophical poems in Hindi. Indeed at a Kavi Sammelan the great poet Ramdhari Singh ‘Dinkar’ blessed me and asked me to keep Hindi alive.. My parents often asked me if I understood what I was writing. With growing acquaintance with English, I started writing in that language too. I attribute this creative urge to living in Jamshedpur which is simply surrounded with Nature; jungles, rivers lakes and hillocks.
Much later, when my husband was posted in Iran and Pakistan, I came in to close contact with Urdu. Gradually I started writing in Urdu too. Listening to various L.P.s which we had taken with us, I self-taught myself to sing with better than average quality.
Here I must mention that I am not a student of arts or fine arts. Formally I have done B.Sc. Honours in Physics and hoped to be a nuclear scientist, till fate and father intervened and I was married off to a Foreign Service officer.
All this while one creative form, which escaped me, was painting. Somehow the idea of facing a blank canvas frightened me. But this was remedied over 40 years ago in Jakarta when a friend introduced me to a well-known painter. The process of learning was rather difficult. The teacher did not know English and I did not know Bhasa Indonesia. So I could only observe and imitate him. Moreover he was leading me towards landscapes and figurative whereas some inner voice told me that that was not for me. I was relieved when we were transferred away.
For the next eight years I experimented and evolved in to my present style. I attribute this to my spiritual and meditative existence. During next two years I discovered by myself that one could paint by palette knife alone. So I gave up the brush and have not touched it for the last three decades. This technique imparts a 3-dimensional effect to my works which was well received in my first solo show at Mustings Hus in Copenhagen in 1989.
This appreciation encouraged me to continue in my quest to express myself with my palette knives and ably supported by my husband and two daughters, I went on to do twenty solo shows and numerous group shows globally in France, Qatar, Belarus, Tunisia, Germany and India. The highlight of this journey was the solo show at Galerie Elysee-Miromesnil, in Paris in the autumn of 1995. It was around this time that I discovered that my style was not that of impressionism but rather expressionism.
It came as a surprise to me at the opening of my most recent solo show in March 2010, ‘Past, Present & Future’ at the Azad Bhavan Art Gallery at the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) when the Master of Ceremonies announced that this was my twenty-first solo show.
Where had the years gone?
I have no answer to that question as I was immersed in my world of art which has seen me through a lifetime.
My canvas and palette knives are my tools for self-expression and I continue to express myself with them in my 22nd Solo Exhibition at IIC Art Gallery (Annexe) in 2015 with a show aptly titled Garden of Memories.
The one thing that hasn’t changed since my first solo was the excitement and the joy of sharing my visual poetry with a new audience some of whom had never heard of expressionism, who saw, admired and felt happy.
I believe that talent is like a river and it has to flow, even if taking different courses. Fragrance of flowers cannot be suppressed. The beauty of creativity has to emerge and mingle with the stream life.
Since I am a poet, expressionism was bound to come to me and become an integral part of my works. I view my works as poetry written in colors. Art is like meditation to me. It can make me transcend this world to sublime divinity.
The dynamism of hope and optimism- the sensation of upward movement in my works is symbolic of that. Since I have grown up surrounded by Nature, I admire and worship it. Perhaps that is why subconsciously it has become the medium to project my sentiments and impressions of life. I try to depict exuberance, cheerfulness, and optimism through my works.
Besides being a painter, I also have a keen acumen for poetry and have written and sung in English, Hindi & Urdu
A couple of my poems are:
|I see my soul captured
In the forms of an unknown existence
Of abstract expressionism
When thoughts become a rainbow
And colors acquire fragrance
Gently whisper my poem to sunshine
And it shall merge with the universe
|We are illusions of past incarnations
Destined to meet and part again
I shall meet you once again
At the horizon of dusk and dawn
Where there is no earth, no sky, nor space beyond
Only flames of meaningful existence.
I recently discovered a rare footage of the first Mushaira in Doha, Qatar in 1990 where I had participated. A Mushaira is a gathering of poets where we recite our Urdu poetry.
Brief Synopsis of Art Career
Kusum Shukla is a self taught Delhi based artist who paints with oil & acrylic colours on canvas, wood & experiment with other mediums such as tiles & glass with the help of a self-developed technique using palette knives, which she considers her specialty.
An awarded artist in Germany and Italy, Kusum held her first solo show at Mustings Hus in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1989. Since then she has held 22 solo shows and participated in numerous Group Shows all over the world. Kusum’s most recent solo show was held at India International Centre in October 2015 titled Garden of Memories.
Of note in recent years was her participation in EASA’s Artists for a Cause at the Maurya Sheraton in April 2006 where her painting was the only on-the-spot sale that evening.
Kusum believes that art transcends borders and collaborated with EASA in their exhibition Crossroads: India and the World – A Friendship through Art at the prestigious premises of Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra in May 2017.
One of her paintings is part of the ICCR’s collection Celebrating Women by Amrita Shergill & was first exhibited at Mati Ghar under the show Women on Women. The acquired painting has been exhibited globally by ICCR & was last shown at Korea Foundation Cultural Center in Seoul from 17th April to 30th April 2009. Kusum’s profile was included in Indian Embassy’s Press Release on its website.
Kusum was also a contributing artist for the fundraising initiative of the new Alliance Francaise de Delhi building & this contribution is acknowledged on the plaque outside Gallerie Romain Rolland.
In December 2011, Kusum participated in the Samvedna Collection Group Show sponsored by PBC Art Gallery to raise funds for Ekal Vidyalaya and in Art for a Cause sponsored by Lalit Kala Akademi in October 2014. Some of her paintings have also been acquired by ODA at the Ministry of External Affairs.
Kusum has featured in many electronic media of excellence & her exhibitions in the past have received favourable reviews in the columns of National & International newspapers, magazines & television.
The artist lives & works in New Delhi, India.
International Artist for the Visual Arts and New Technologies for the Third Millennium 2012 -Associazione Internazionale Galleria “Il Collezionista”, Rome, ItalyCertificate of Excellence, Palm Art Award 2010 – Art Domain Gallery, Leipzig, Germany
Collectors of Kusum Shukla’s artworks:
- Private collections in Denmark, Qatar, France, Belarus, USA, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Tunisia, Trinidad& Tobago & India;
- Former Emir of Qatar
- Embassy of Japan, Belarus ;
- Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR);
- Alliance Francaise de Delhi;
- World Trade Centre, Mumbai;
- Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation;
- Ranbaxy Laboratories;
- Transport Corporation of India;
- Gas Authority of India;
- Lord Krishna Bank;
- Raj Niwas, Port Blair;
- UPSC, New Delhi;
- Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi; &
- Rotary Blood Bank, New Delhi
Other places where you can view Kusum Shukla’s artworks:
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