Metro People: 'Dad and his friends are my inspiration'

Rekha Hebbar Rao

Artist Rekha Hebbar Rao, daughter of artist K K Hebbar explores art in a unique manner. She strongly believes that ‘a painter’s works arise from his or her own environment.’

Being someone with a deep concern for nature and the life around her, she was bewildered by the changing skyline and ecological imbalances that humans have inflicted on themselves.

The artist says that she had felt the need to draw and paint from an early age. As a young girl, she often accompanied her father on long walks, while he carried his sketch pad and lived in a house filled with canvases, colours and the smell of turpentine.

She says, “Ours was an open house that artists, writers, musicians, dancers frequented. Facing a blank canvas, my father and I would often discuss the many ways to approach it. I have learned the tactile qualities of paints and the power colour has to invoke light within each painting. Colour became the core of all my paintings. It is only later that I learned to harness my ideas and depict them on my canvases in my own expressionistic style.”

“An uneasiness is born from the dormant restlessness that an unequal society generates. I respond to pressing social concerns as my works are profoundly humanistic in import involving the mind and heart.”

Rekha’s imagery is simple, cryptic, forthright and colour saturated, rendered in a style that radiates warmth and optimism. She works from a studio in Bengaluru but shuttles between Mumbai and the city.

The artist has done solo exhibitions since 1973 in the US, Germany and Australia and cities like Baroda, New Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai, and has been a part of group exhibitions since 1972. 

Rekha has attended several art camps, including a National Art Camp at Phuket, Thailand.

She has won awards such as the Suvarna Karnataka Rajyotsava Award (2006) and the G S Shenoy Memorial Award (2003).

She has been honoured by the Lalit kala Akademi in Lucknow (1977) and the Critic’s Award from the Artists Centre, Mumbai (1971).

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