“God has not done justice to me,….” says Ragini, who identifies herself with her own painting ‘Kali’
Ragini Upadhyaya is an artist with a difference. She has been active in the field of fine art for over three decades. She has studied in Lucknow College of Arts and did her graduation in fine art. Having a versatile personality Ragini is also a print maker, lyricist and philanthropist. She has also got the opportunity to serve as Chancellor of Nepal Fine Arts Academy (2014-2018) for a term of four years.
She is known for her fusion of traditional symbology, mythology and contemporary art in her surrealist and abstract creations. She has showcased her two masterpieces in two weeks long art exhibition titled “Nepalese Dieties Art” which runs till Tuesday at Nepal Art Council, Babarmahal.
“Whether we create contemporary art, traditional or folk art or sculptures, there we will definitely see the impression of our culture,” says Ragini talking to The Nepal Weekly. “Artists have not only painted deities, Gods and Goddesses in traditional style, but also in modern way as well.”
It will leave good impact on the younger generation people, if the artists create deities in a modern way, she opines. Here, you can find a wide variety of paintings such as Thangkas, modern art works and Mithila arts as well, she says describing about the ongoing art exhibition at Nepal Art Council. “How artists paint Gods and Goddesses, how they painted not only in traditional way but also in contemporary way, leaves good impression among the younger generation people,” she says. “I believe that such kinds of painting exhibition helps to preserve and promote our traditional art and culture.” “It was surprising for me to see not only older generation but also a large number of younger generation people visiting the council to see the paintings of different deities,” says Ragini. “Although my five paintings were chosen for the exhibition, in the final selection only two paintings got approval because of shortage of space,” she admitted.
Among the two paintings done by Ragini, (that were hanged in the council) one is Kali, a modern one, and another is Laxmi. Both the deities displayed here are semi-abstract paintings. “The Kali painting with half white and half blue face depicts my own character,” says Ragini. ”I am in an angry mood, carrying a weighing scale “Taraju” which is imbalanced representing injustice.” “God has not done justice to me,” remarks Ragini, who has lost her young daughter Shivata at the age of 16.
In her painting , Kali is carrying a burning sun in one of her hands and wearing a garland of heads of people. She is showing her long tongue in an angry mood. The garland made of head represents death of so many people like father, mother, grandfather, friends etc., we witness in our life.
When a woman is raped, she takes the form of a Kali, when acid is sprinkled on her face, she becomes like Kali. Women are not always soft and polite or weak, she is also bold and strong like Kali, when injustice is done to her, that is what she wanted to show through her paintings.
“Art is like worshipping the God, it is like meditation,” says Ragini.
In 2016, when she lost her daughter, who was suffering from pneumonia, she was shocked. However, she turned her grief and sorrow to the art. “I have expressed my sorrow and grief in each and every art works after the incident,” says Ragini. “I am alive now, it was because of the art,” she admits.
In the beginning of her career, Ragini used to do many paintings with snakes. “Snakes represent our desire,” she says. “We have so many desire, ambitions, expectations. We have seen Shiva ji wearing a garland of snakes and Bishnu sleeping in the bed of snakes. They are able to control desire.”
“If we are able to control the desire, then we can lead a peaceful life but if desires take control of us than life will be miserable,” opines Ragini. At that time she used to wear snake on her forehead representing human desire. After that she used to wear a Trishul or tridant on her forehead. Now she wears a Sun on her the forehead. Trishul represents existence, power, self-confidence. “Trishul is like the blessing from mother Goddess, which helps us to fight against discrimination, exploitation and violence against women. “After I founded Shivata Foundation in the name of my daughter, a small light has came in my life, and I started wearing a Sun on the forehead.” Sun represents light, hope, the love of my daughter,” says she.
“For me art is life, art is sorrow, happiness everything,” she announces. “I think I was born to be an artist.”
At the moment she is preparing for an international art exhibition to be organized in Kathmandu, in which she is planning to showcase around 40 paintings.