Cambridge artist Dipannyta Chatterjee is drawing on traditional themes of hope and renewal, instilled in her as a child, to create untraditional art with a conscience.
“I was born in Kolkata, India and I studied there for some time then I moved to Mumbai which is in the west of India,” said Chatterjee. “I did my higher education and started working there, then I moved to Canada where I got my MBA and have lived here since 2014.”
Her formal education is in business, but she credits her father’s influence as a painter, musician, and educator for cultivating her love of art.
“I am motivated by my father,” said Chatterjee. “Since childhood I have seen music, craft, art and all those things in my home. Art is my passion. I am getting goosebumps talking about it because I can just connect. It is like prayer for me, like worship.”
Chatterjee describes herself as a modern, abstract artist but while there are no overt religious themes in her paintings, she draws spiritual inspiration from a variety of ancient faiths and religious traditions.
“I have studied in a Catholic convent school so, I have followed Christianity,” she said. “We go to Gurduara for Sikh because my husband is Punjabi. I have also been to Masjid (Chawk Masjid Mosque in West Bengal, India), which is a Muslim sacred place. We also follow Buddhism because Lord Buddha was originally a Hindu before he developed Buddhism.”
She invited CambridgeToday to visit her and her family at her home studio in Cambridge during the annual Hindu festival of Ganesh Chaturthi.
“Lord Ganesha was born during this time and for 10 days there is a huge celebration in the Hindu religion,” Chatterjee said. “He is the god of wisdom, wealth and removal of all obstacles and bad luck.”
Chatterjee has good reason to celebrate these days given that interest in her work is growing outside India where she got her start and taking root in some of the most prestigious and well-established centres of Western art.
“I get a lot of emails and invitations from art galleries around the world because they like my art,” she said. “I have exhibited in Monaco and Milan, and I have one ongoing with the Van Gogh Art Gallery in Madrid. I will also be exhibited in Barcelona Spain, in November and the Carrousel du Louvre in Paris.”
Getting an exhibit in any of these locations is a measure of commercial success for someone hoping to make it in the art world and can have a profound influence on the value and demand for an artist’s work.
“Selling the art is not that important to me,” said Chatterjee. “If it is not sold it is fine. I will keep it for me where I can appreciate it and my loved ones can appreciate it. But, if it is sold and going to someone else’s house and creating an aura in their house, it is a double bonus for me.”
Examples of Chatterjee’s creations hang on the walls of her home studio giving her an opportunity to describe her processes and themes to visitors
“Each colour and each stroke has a meaning behind it,” she said. “It is abstract, but you get the message from the picture. I feel that everybody likes art, they just don’t see it through. If they pay attention, I think the picture becomes clearer. For me this is a new beginning. For you it could be something else.”
Her themes are often inspired by social or environmental issues such as the Indigenous struggle for Truth and Reconciliation or the impact of climate change. Often her focus is reflected in the materials she uses and the way they are applied.
“This one is made with gold and wood chips,” she said. “It has stones and sand in it. I rarely use brushes. I use my hand. I try to use paper or stone or grass or anything that is natural. It gives its own texture. It has its own meaning.”
For Chatterjee, the act of creating art is just as important as the finished product.
“I just love being creative and If I can convey that into the community, it serves my purpose,” she said. “I am just trying to create a positive message for the environment and for the society so that we are responsible for Mother Nature and taking care of each other, respecting each other, loving each other and helping each other.”
To learn more about Chatterjee and her art visit www.nyrasartandinteriors.ca