Sangeeta Agrawal : A Diamond in the Rough – Meenakshi Mohan
“To be an artist is to believe in life!”
What is in a name? Bulbul, the name given to Sangeeta by her grandfather, is a singing bird, whose melodious songs resonates through the environment, and allures its listeners. Sangeeta is that Bulbul. She says, “I was singing even before I learned to talk.” Her innate artistic talent for painting, acting, and singing put her in the limelight from the very beginning of her life, through school and college. After winning numerous acting awards in Inter-college theatre competitions, she wanted to become a professional actor.
Sangeeta, born into a conservative joint family in India, was not allowed to pursue a career in actingin spite of having the desire and the opportunity. She was twenty-one-year-old when she married Rajeev Agrawal, a computer engineer, and migrated to America. Her talent in various art forms found its niche only after coming here, and settling into in her new life as a wife and mother. She learned Indian classical music, which led to the flowering of her innate musicality and also extended her hitherto hidden artistic potentials in other forms of art.
Robert McKee, an author and a professor at the University of Southern California believes that music has the power to silence the chatter in the mind and lift us to another place. Musical cadences increase creative reasoning, also known as the “Mozart effect.” Mark Rothko, the famous artist confirms that significant bond. Her musical inclinations conjured up her other talents.
I came upon Sangeeta through her paintings. Her works are vibrant, abstract, exploding with color, and often tinged witha sense of mystery. Edgar Degas says, “A painting requires a little mystery, some vagueness and some fantasy . . . .” Her paintings are often paradoxical as they derive influences from many sources – past experiences, philosophical beliefs, musical inclinations, love of architecture, and the works of other artists. In her paintings, we find Paul Klee’s surrealistic expressionism, and vibrancy of color indicative of movement and flow. We also find the strong influence of her favorite artist, Mark Rothko, who is known for simplicity of composition, and the use of intense contrasting colors. She incubates that knowledgeand then creates a different story in her own individualistic style in each of her works. All her paintings are acrylics on canvas, and some of them are in series:
Cityscape: 12×36 inches
Sangeeta grew up in Mumbai amidst the hustle bustle of the city and the calmness of the Arabian Sea. In this painting, she has created depth, and texture by placing contrasting colors next to each other, representing her love of architecture. Using only straight lines, she creates the city skyline. The blue of the sky represents serenity in contrast to the chaos ofcrowded city life.
The Earth series is a story of human kind occupying only a small sliver in the colossal space of cosmic life. The vastness of the cool blue sky against the hot red core highlights the narrow strip where life exists. Sangeeta demonstrates that humanity has only a small place in this extensive cosmology. Her abstract inferences express the philosophy of Gita: We are so absorbed in our own egoistic preferences that we remove ourselves from the realities of this existence.
Looming Past: 36×36 inches
Sangeeta says, “Horizons are always intriguing. They have mystery and promise. I often start by drawing a horizontal straight line across the canvas and let that line lead the composition.” Once again, she connects the mystery of life with her philosophical views – the distant abstract ruins in ‘Looming Past’ are symbolic of the fact that the past is always ahead as an inseparable part of us. ‘Looming Past’ reminded me of Vedic Scriptures that human life is a collection of Sanchit Karma – a collection of past deeds from previous lives. That portion of the Sanchit Karmais called theprarabdhakarma,which are ready to be experienced through the present body (incarnation.)