#InConversation with Santa Rakshit

By Davangi Pathak | May 16 2024 · 10-15 mins

Santa Rakshit's practice delves into the expanses of the mind, blurring the lines between external and internal realms. As the boundaries between the animate and inanimate dissolve, everything vibrates with organic energy. Yet, occasionally, these organic forms may lose their vitality, becoming mere markings. Through this interaction, we will delve into Santa's artistic journey and how her artworks serve as a conduit for exploring her soul.
Davangi: Have you always been interested in pursuing a career in a creative field? Were you aware of this desire from an early age? 

Santa: Yes, I have always been interested in pursuing a career in a creative field. Drawing has been a passion of mine since childhood. I used to buy colors, brushes, and drawing books using my pocket money to create pictures. Neither anyone at home nor in the neighborhood knew much about art. Since I was in sixth grade, I have had a strong desire to become an artist. 

Davangi: As you mentioned before, you faced a lot of challenges while pursuing art? Can you please tell us more about it? 

Santa: Coming from a middle-class Bengali family, dreaming was a challenge. However, the deep desire in my heart propelled me towards the field of art. I arrived at Baroda Fine Arts College with the aspiration to become an artist, at an age where many would deem it impossible without a strong determination for art. Despite trying various colleges in Kolkata without success, I eventually learned about Baroda Fine Arts MSU and gained admission there. In Baroda, I completed my BBA and MBA despite facing numerous financial struggles. Instead of giving up, my passion for art kept me persevering. Being single, I barely manage to fund my own expenses.

"I have always loved neatness, Now I hold half-inch Himalaya in my hand", Installation, 2022

Davangi: Could you please tell us more about your The Memory Laboratory Series? 

Santa: The Memorable Laboratory -  I have constructed a wooden box measuring 8 feet by 2 feet by 2 feet. Inside this box, I placed 18 small boxes of various shapes, such as triangles, rectangles, and cubes. These small boxes are attached to one side of the wooden box, while the inside walls are fitted with mirrors. This setup allows for the reflection of all sides of the objects placed inside. Additionally, I drilled 22 holes on both the small boxes and the surface of the main box, acting as eyepieces. These small boxes are stacked on top of each other, creating different layers through which light enters and is reflected by the mirrors, resulting in a dramatic effect. The ambiguity arises because an object viewed through one eye hole may appear distant or proximate, and its angles and perspectives may vary. I incorporated various elements such as nail polish, lipstick, mirrors, dolls, earrings, necklaces, needles, letters, child paintings, bras, sanitary napkins, shells, and beads. These objects represent facets of every woman's world. What makes it memorable is the reflection with oneself. The self is mirrored myriad times through the ordinary objects of a woman's world. The analogy between the body and objects turns it into a laboratory where different parts are detailed, each with its own story. These objects, though mundane in the real world, become experimental in their reflection and multiplication, raising questions about constructed reality. The attempt was to question the authenticity of the cultured vision and why certain objects hold different reverence than others in various contexts. The reflections themselves create a vision and image that both authenticate and subjugate, forming a hierarchical structure. The Memorable Laboratory organizes the self, redefining it through its real and illusionary reflections. It expresses itself not confined within the box but allows the audience to peek into a separate world.

Prayas: A community art project, Baroda, 2011

Prayas: A community art project, Baroda, 2011

Davangi: Are there any artists, their methodologies, or aspects of their lives that serve as inspiration for you? 

Santa: When I was in sixth grade, Vincent van Gogh was a great inspiration to me. Later, during my twelfth grade, I found inspiration in Amrita Shergill, and subsequently, Kiki Smith became a significant influence. Their ideologies and working styles deeply inspired me. 

Davangi: Could you please tell us more about your In Scape series? 
Santa: "In Scape" is a series of artworks that symbolise the unique inner nature of individuals. It embodies a poetic theory of elements and rhythms found in nature. Davangi: Could you please tell us more about your I am swimming with my soul series? Santa: Swimming with my soul is an activity I cherish. When I'm in the water, the outside world fades away, allowing me to immerse myself in my own thoughts, in my own world. This experience rejuvenates both my physical and spiritual selves, providing me with fresh energy that fuels my creativity and inspires my heart.

Santa's Studio

Santa's Studio

Davangi: You work mostly with the oil on canvas medium. Why only that medium? 

Santa: Oil painting has particularly captured my interest among the mediums I have explored. Employing traditional techniques with oil paints has been deeply satisfying. I have experimented with various applications within the oil medium, such as adjusting the ratio of turpentine oil and exploring different blending techniques. This exploration has allowed me to add texture and incorporate desired elements into my artwork. The oil medium offers immense flexibility and control over my artistic expressions. Its slow drying nature enables me to work at a deliberate pace, blending colors seamlessly and enhancing details, light, and shadows. I also appreciate the versatility of creating custom oil mixtures to achieve specific effects. Exploring various pigments, textures, and techniques within the oil medium has been a rewarding journey that continues to inspire my creativity. While I have explored different mediums such as water color, acrylics, mixed media on rice paper, and natural pigments, some of my experiments have been particularly fulfilling.

The Memory Laboratory I, 2005

The Memory Laboratory II, 2007

The Memory Laboratory II, 2007

The Memory Laboratory II, 2007

Davangi: Would you like to discuss any upcoming projects? Do you plan to experiment with different mediums in your future work? 

Santa: The primary upcoming project involves creating an installation that combines painting on rice papers with pen and ink, natural dyes, and acrylic colors, complemented by various stitching techniques on canvases of different sizes. If any gallery is willing to support me, I aim to exhibit this series of my work. The installation will span from the ceiling to the wall, showcasing a diverse array of mediums.

Click here to view Santa's Online Viewing Room and learn more about her practice.