Shweta Sharma’s surrealistically emotive pieces begin with a face, and then see the infusion of various elements. What brings out the emotiveness in them is the representation of contrasting emotions, the sad and the happy, the bored and the interested, the tired and the energized. ‘Even if am sad I am trying to be happy there are two emotions, so I will make a face which has a sad lip and a happy lip or may be I will make a face in which one eye is wide open and one eye is shut so there are so many things which are hidden which I don't hide’ And I guess maybe that’s one of the reasons why she goes by Instagram handle of ‘SharmatiNahi’ (doesn't shy away) as she doesn't shy away from painting realities. Her fascination with art goes way back.‘My mom is a very good painter and I used to see her sketch when I was two or three and I always liked drawing, my parents wanted me to be a Chartered Accountant but then they saw a lot of potential in my drawing and they agreed for me to pursue it.’ So she enrolled herself at the National Institute of Fashion Technology as a Fashion communication student which not only allowed her to pursue a creative path but also deepened her understanding of her own art.
Glance through Shweta’s work, you will see surrealism glaring right back at you. The faces, flooded with expressions and diverse elements reminds one of Salvador Dali’s work. Shweta herself describes her art style as halfway between Picasso’s and Dali’s. What led her to find this art style though that today she calls her own visual language? ‘I didn’t know about this before I was trying a lot of styles initially. I was interested in a lot of things and I was doing all at once... I was really confused initially about what I like because I did a lot of things and I wasn't bad at anything and I used to think that everything I make is very random but then my friends and people who used to follow me told me that there is this pattern in everything I do and I also realised later everything I do it seems to start with a face and it wouldn't be an ordinary face... there would be some surreal parts in it then I started making bodies around it.’
R: Bright Red Complex
L: Red Riding Brotherhood
What dreams are made off
Another intereting thing about sHweta is that she remembers her dreams, frame by frame, colour by colour. It's little short of astonishing. 'Once there was a dream and I was sitting on a fishing deck near a seashore and I saw a lot of small fish acting like dolphins, the way dolphins jump in and out of water and I saw the reflection of the galaxy in the water so when woke up I drew like a galaxy and a fish in it. The fish looked like they are floating in the sky’ and she has many other dreams like this. Another one she told me about was when she was in a past era filled with rich historical costumes, A king and a Queen, a singing couple and a number of musical compositions that would make it a hit today, as she describes them. While her vivid sense of imagination fuels her work, another aspect informs it. She is an observer of people and an empath. She describes herself as highly emotional and her ability and discernibility to sense emotions in people is the underlying matter that forms her artworks. ‘I think faces are the first thing you notice. If you want to know someone or something you listen to what they are talking about, you see their face, or if you see someone or are talking to someone you see their eyes. You can judge a personality by a face so I think to observe people a lot and I have a habit of drawing a lot of eyes because I think they are the most powerful source of information to a person’s personality.’
Her collaborative effort with miniature artists from Jaipur led to Neo-Modern miniatures, which infused miniatures with contemporary elements, taking the form of tiny matchboxes. The artisans create beautiful miniatures with themes revolving around Indian royalty, but do their livelihoods thrive as a result? ‘What they make is raja rani and no one connects with that today, they would buy something funky so how can you help them to continue the same skill and sell more?’. She further reveals ‘We are planning to do an exhibition very soon. They are teaching me how to do a traditional painting and I am teaching them what are the modern elements to take.. we will have to sit together and study a lot and I also don't want to disrupt the traditional grid so we will follow the same grid but change around the elements. You don't wanna take away the essence of the miniature.’
Text Supriya Jain