We got introduce to Sujata Dharap in September 2015 in India , where we were invited at inauguration of an Art festival in Pune , India . Sujata was very polite and lovely person to connect with and within few days we visited at her Creative Club studio to interview her for our series. Since then, she has not only joined our creative community as artist, but also become our advisory member who guides us from time to time.
Mrs. Sujata Dharap, is a well-known artist, painter and a teacher from India. She has been teaching arts to young kids, from the past 3 decades, in her very own home where she has a studio right in her basement. Children from the age of 5 to 17 are taught all kinds of multimedia artworks.Mrs. Sujata has done exchange programs in France, Indonesia, USA and have also given live demonstrations in various places like Boston. She has also devised curriculum for schools and art colleges.
Her father set up the studio sometime during the 90s, and she had started back then itself, while she studied in the school of arts in Mumbai. But back then she had her own reservations.
“I wanted to do my own work and not teach anyone who entered the studio but now it has changed. I have learnt a lot by teaching in 30 years. Right from the beginning I started teaching the students in weekends, which I still do.” She recalls.
The new students she acquires every time comes with a lot of energy, but no baggage. But nonetheless it is a beautiful experience to teach them, as the teaching eventually turns into a learning process itself for her. She has primarily been working on painting, teaching, and trying to form different curriculum for the schools and doing basic designs.
Architecture has been a major interest for Mrs. Sujata always. Born in Mumbai, and as she lived there for 20 years, most of her inspirations came right from the middle of the city of hopes. And as obvious,architecture has always been an integral part of her paintings. A lot of her work has door, windows and interior spaces, along with the negative spaces in architecture or pores which made her architectures breathe. And thus she naturally did a major number of workshops in the architecture schools.
“These are mostly my spaces in which I have been painting. And they have gone on in a very natural process. It has never been like I have thought very hard to bring in a new piece of artwork. It has all flown in naturally.” She concludes.
On the matter of personal branding, Mrs. Sujata has a very straightforward view. Although she believes that personal branding is very necessary, which actually is, but she has not been doing that lately. She says,
“Frankly speaking, I believe it is very important. But I haven’t been doing that. I have rather taken the help of other resources to do that job for me. As an artist I am more involved in what I create and what I think. What I can part with as my thought process and as my learning. And naturally this branding thing always takes a backseat. And I have never put it on my top priority and I think I missed out on that.”
Looking back though, she does believe that the branding should have happened several years ago. Everything grew naturally, one step at a time for her, which could have been far better had there been some kind of branding, that’s what she says. But that never happened, and thus she now believes she would need some help to get a branding done, which apparently was not that important back some decades ago as it is now.
“Not for my art. I feel it is too out in the open and in the face. I really haven’t thought so much about it. I do have a website but on Facebook it is more about interacting with my friends because more or less it is in my nature. But it would be good to utilize that arena for my artwork as well. But again I will be needing help in that. I am up for it because I believe I can reach to a larger mass.”
Says she, when asked about what she thought of social media about promoting her art.
She says that if your studio is doing a good work, or doing something different, people should know about that. But, to her disappointment that hasn’t happened yet. There are so many people in Pune only, who aren’t aware of the studio although it has been more than 30 years. On the belief of building a support system Mrs. Sujata says,
“Yes, it’s not only painting which was just one part of whatever I was doing. Whenever I worked on huge walls, there was always a connection to the person I was working for and then the architect I was working with as well as to the technique I was using. Like I needed help with the plaster. Although I did the Murals all with my hands, yet I would need some help, with the plaster. So be it a plaster or mosaic or wood, I would need that support system, outside from my studio to give that larger than life sense to my art.”
Mrs. Sujata believes that if you are working on a small scale, just painting on the canvas, then you might not need a huge support system. But if you are working big time, like on walls, then you definitely need one.
She further adds, “One thing I would do differently is reaching out to the masses. I would want to be active much more on that front. I don’t know how to market my work. But to market, my work has to have sense. My work has to be better in every aspect so that it can be marketed. Like if I don’t like a piece of work, but it gets marketed, I won’t want that. But if it is good, Then I would definitely want it to reach the market.”
“Not very easy to sustain as an artist. Be genuine about your art. I would want to be a very genuine artist for myself. Whether I do financially very well or okay. I won’t say advice, but that’s what I have received from every guru I have worked with. Search for himself and get to put his work in front of the audience. Don’t run for the glamour. Ask yourself why I am here and what is important to me.”
She says when asked about the best advice she has received during the 3 decades she has been in the industry.
Mrs. Sujata believes she has inherited the optimism from her father. Her father taught her, that life is a problem, and you just have to solve it. She has always been sensitive as an artist and seldom or almost never ran behind the glamour behind which tagged along. She says, she could always make a piece of art which can be very beautiful commercially but not likeable enough to her. Instead, what she would love to make is something she feels from within, and what comes naturally. Whether it is commercially viable or not.
“But I am not saying that people should go to hell, and I don’t care what they like. Because for me it is the connection which keeps it live. An artist cannot live isolated and my work has to be so good that not only the people but I should like my work as well” she concludes.
On recalling some of the biggest obstacles she had during the 30 years span she says, “Dad was strong person. After he passed away. It was difficult to take up the studio with the same energy. So it did take some time for me to recuperate from that phase. And then there was raising the money to publish his biography. At one point I was very depressed that I won’t be able to do this book. But people supported us financially. Ashish Kate, did a great job writing the book, and also the designer Milind Gokhale, who designed for us. And hence, finally I was able to publish the book, because I had people who helped financially, and elsewhere as well. We wanted to reach out and wanted people to know his journey.”
On another note she says all smiles, that how during 2001 and 2003 when they used to have a lot of students coming in the studio to learn various types of art, and she was the only one doing abstract at that time. And how some of her paintings started disappearing as some student started to steal them.
“But then my father said that its good people are liking you art. They are getting to know more about art. And gave me a very different point of view. Like he is getting better taste in arts.” She submits laughing.
On one of her biggest success ever she smiles and says, “I was in Srilanka. And there was this beautiful gallery built by Geoffery Bawa. One of my favorite architects. And the space was so inviting that I went to the manager and asked what does it take to be in this gallery, like do I send you my work your panel reviews it and then allows me to showcase my work. And he asked me where are you from? I said India. And he said, How successful you are in India? And I said it has been thirty years whilst I survived the life as an artist there. And have lived purely an artist’s life, without any commercial involvement as such at all. And that made an impact I think. And then I said that for the next 30 years, my goal is the same, because I am going to remain an artist till I die, and that is my
success. That’s how I got there”
Mrs. Sujata Dharap, a great artist, and a good teacher signs off with a note for the upcoming and the budding artists, something which they should follow, if they want to be an artist.
1. Be versatile, Don’t put yourself in a box and paint. Be vibrant.
2. Never compromise with art. Neither with money, nor with the glamour or fame.
3. Have your own freedom. Never draw to please someone. Draw to please yourself first.
4. And discover yourself first, before you run behind this glamorous field of success.
And with that, ends a pretty inspirational interview with a great artist, teacher and a beautiful lady, Mrs.Sujata Dharap. Don’t forget to checkout her Father and Daughter collection showcasing her and Mr. Bal Wad’s original Paintings and sketches!
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