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In June 11-16, 2016 the International Roerich Memorial Trust, Naggar (IRMT) hosted the solo exhibition of paintings by the Sonepat based artist Reena Chaudhary titled “Inspiration”.


Sublime Feminine in the Art of Reena Chaudhary

Born and brought up in the historical city of Indore, Madhya Pradesh, Reena Chaudhary displayed rare ability for art already in early childhood. She used all kinds of media from charcoal to watercolours drawing landscapes and even figurative pictures. Little did she know that art would be both her calling and profession: she just followed her heart.

Much of Mrs. Chaudhary’s art, including most of the pieces she exhibited in the IRMT, has to do with woman and her inner world. She firmly believes that women empowerment will greatly contribute to the strengthening of society and state. But even though her art has a social message she abstains from making clear statements to that effect in her canvases. Hers is a rather different approach. “Depicting discrimination and violence against women will surely create heavy negative feelings. But depicting women in all their subtle beauty will educate the society and teach it to treat women with the respect they deserve,” says Mrs. Chaudhary. As the Russian Curator of the IRMT Larisa Surgina noted, this agrees rather well with the conviction of Svetoslav Roerich that artist should abstain from depicting the ugly side of life and should rather concentrate on capturing its beauty, which has a truly healing effect. 

But as the years went by, she made up her mind to study art professionally and got enrolled in the Indore Art College. She graduated with the degree in Drawing and Painting and went on to study textile design, but only to learn more about various aspects of art. Nowadays she is an Art and Craft teacher in one of the Public Schools of Sonepat, Haryana.

Reena Chaudhary is also a Hindi poetess regularly contributing to literary magazines (she even considers bringing out an anthology of her works). Some of her paintings are illustrations to her poems, while some of her literary works are inspired by her paintings. She believes arts are essentially connected and reinforce one another.

The female images created by Reena Chaudhary and displayed in the exhibition exude tenderness, grace and delicacy. One gets immediately drawn by what is arguably the central piece of the exhibition: the large-size canvas titled ‘Mother and Son.’ Through this lyrical painting Mrs. Chaudhary wants to convey the message of the essential unity of the language of love: it is understood and employed by all: people, animals, flowers and plants. Love unites the world into one family. The central part of the canvas is occupied by a young mother holding a child, whose cheek clings to hers in the gesture of deep tenderness that immediately reminds us of nothing less than the Madonnas of medieval icons. 

Mrs. Chaudhary also exhibited several double portraits of women depicting them surrounded by a plethora of faces casting not always pleasant glances. This shows how insecure and exposed are young women even in today’s society, but also how elegantly and gracefully they withstand this tremendous pressure. As the Indian Curator of the IRMT Ramesh Chander rightly observed in his speech on the occasion of the opening of the exhibition, the issue of women’s position in today’s world remains highly relevant, and the art that makes us ponder over it has always been encouraged by the IRMT. 

She also displayed half of her Creation Series – small-size abstract works tracing the development of foetus and the mother’s feelings triggered by the process. In it she tried to show that creation of a human being is akin to creation of the world.

One could also see several pieces from the series called “Alone” exploring the entire gamut of woman’s moods. This is the first series executed in the less realistic style recently developed by Reena Chaudhary characterized by broken lines and sharp angles, with bright orange and intense blue dominating the palette. In the paintings from this series the heroine is usually depicted surrounded by blossoming trees, gazing at the crescent, lavishly adorned with flowers and traditional jewelry, her tresses streaming down. She is pensive but not distressed, alone but not lonely, waiting for something and absorbed in herself all the same. 

In future Reena Chaudhary plans to work mainly in her newly developed style and create a series of paintings called “Love” on the bonds that bind together entire creation.     

The Roerichs often wrote that future of the world is closely connected with the ascendancy of woman who must realize her significance and should be prepared to take responsibility for the destiny of humanity. The recurring exhibitions of women artists in the IRMT, especially when focused on women’s issues, prove that this process is under way.