Centuries-old diaries, vintage postcards, and letters become the canvas for this artist to convey untold stories
Forever charmed by the old world as a little girl, she collected vintage letters, legal papers, and old bills. She could weave a story from that piece of junk about the era gone by, that most of us would hardly look over twice.
Bakula Nayak , a Bengaluru based artist recently concluded her latest exhibition, ‘Intimate Strangers’ at the India International Center in Delhi. Her flair for art is nothing new; she used to paint when she was a child but as she was growing up, art took a back seat. ‘College, studies, boyfriends, and work are more interesting at that point of time’, she says. Bakula studied architecture and later went ahead to get a degree in packaging from an institute in Manhattan. She was never satisfied though, ‘I never felt satisfied. I was not happy because somewhere it always felt like it’s not my line of work’, recalled Bakula.
She had lost her mother in her early 20’s following the death of her father 5 years ago. It was around this time that she found a box full of letters that her parents wrote to each other. The letters were full of unconditional love, as parents do, which included the dreams about their daughters’ future which were quite painful to read. This is what propelled her to take to art again, ‘painting on those letters was my way of dealing with the grief’. Eventually, she started drawing on other vintage papers she had collected since childhood.
Birds with hats, cute cats, fish, plants, and paper boats are what constitute her paintings. When questioned about it she said, ‘I always had an affinity towards nature; back when I was a child Bangalore was so green, and now I can barely recognize it. Look in any direction and there is a construction site coming up’. Loaded with intricate penmanship, her paintings narrate a story, the scribbled longings on love letters, absurdly low pricing on the old grocery bill or the uneventful details of a personal diary. When asked curiously, where she finds all the vintage material from she cheerfully said, I don’t find them, they find me!’ Although Bakula has been collecting them since forever from the vintage shops in the US to the kabadiwallas in India, seems like she has a piece of history from everywhere possible.
Currently residing in Bengaluru, Bakula moved to India 7 years back with her family after being in the states which also happens to be the place where she found her spouse. A mother of 3, she describes her husband to be loving, ‘someone who supports me in my madness.’
In today’s world of rampant development, Bakula’s paintings bring back the nostalgia for the simpler lifestyle, closer to nature. Perhaps that explains the popularity of her art!
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