Here I am writing of an artist, Bakula Nayak whose work is a love story with elements of the fairy tale and whimsy. And I can only think of what a lovely person she is. Shall I tell you of the artist, her journey, her work or her home? It’s been days since we met and the post is pending as I wanted to include her video, which is yet to happen. But even after so many days, I can still feel her exuberance, her positive vibes and her creative instincts. Having visited her home, seen the books she loves, the artwork she chooses to display (none of her own!), her notepad of sketches and ideas, her love for the ordinary and the extraordinary, I can see why I am so muddled and lost for words. Bakula is the fragrant flower who spreads the joy of love through art, but has a sad place in her heart from where soulful poetry flows.
I first came across her artwork in Facebook, which had a lovely pair of birds having tea and her trademark was the vintage paper she used as her base and inspiration. One good thing about blogging is that you lose all inhibitions you would otherwise have. So I immediately connected with her and wanted to meet her. When I meet someone like Bakula Nayak, it makes me very grateful for my work. Otherwise how else would I have met such a wonderful person? Luckily we have a connection and she shares her life with me. Having lost her parents, she treasures their love letters she came across a long time after. Having only seen them as an ordinary couple who never publicly expressed their love, she tells me that it was a revelation for her. Seeing all her drawings treasured by them, brought it all back and she started drawing after a gap of nearly twenty years.
Flashback -Though her first love was always design, she could not attend the interview at NID as her father was against her leaving Bangalore. With limited options she completed Architecture, but decided to study design in the US after her engineering. “It wasn’t easy, especially as I had to follow the heavy Southern accent, use the internet and live alone in a foreign country.” But she did manage and came back to be with her mother who was suffering from cancer. Her mother’s only wish was to see her daughter married and Bakula relented. With just a few emails she knew that she had found her soul mate in her husband and they got married. Her mother’s health improved dramatically after the marriage and she lived for some more months happy that her daughter was finally married. She talks of happier times, the drawing competitions she would prepare for, the prize that she received from Rekha (the popular Bollywood actress) and rolling shields. Her mother would always encourage her to conceptualize and plan before she started drawing. She had to draw events from the newspaper such as Indira Gandhi’s cremation and that habit helps her plan her sketches even to this day. She extends the same encouragement to her children and I saw one of her son’s painting which was awesome.
Inspiration –Bakula Nayak finds inspiration everywhere. Her Unplugged series is a witness to her curiosity and attempt to bring the extraordinary to the common man in a simplified and child like manner so as to render it accessible. Tyagayya unplugged, Sangam unplugged, In Adoration of Krishna are her unplugged series where she decodes and demystifies. What connects me to Bakula is that each of these unplugged series is her personal journey, her understanding of the each of these subjects “which picked her rather than the other way around”. I feel the same way with my blog posts, they are my journey, my learning and experience which I share with all of you.
Unplugged –Tyagayya was one of the greatest composers of Carnatic music who wrote musical compositions in Telugu using that which he found in everyday life. Bakula Nayak happened upon the translation in English and rendered it in watercolours. This series sees Rama and Lakshmana sharing a moment of brotherly love but as birds. The Yamuna in another painting is shown in all her splendor as a kind mother who loves all the flora and fauna around and in her. I loved this elaborate painting. Nauka Charitham shows Krishna as a bird, where he works up a storm so that the Gopikas who were teasing him will have to ask his help and be humbled. Sangam unplugged is Tamil poetry on love and war. In Bakula’s words she “only knows Love” as a mother, an artist and a lover. With any tragedy in our lives, it becomes difficult to keep our faith in God and her faith was shaken with the death of her parents. ‘In Adoration of Krishna’ explores her relationship with Hari and the more formal settings of the Pichwai paintings find their place on Bakula’s canvas showing aspects of motherly love with a cow and calf, and divine love with a pair of herons. With the final painting, she says that she just could not do it and Hari had abandoned her. It is this creative honesty which is so much a part of Bakula that endears her. Her signature style of whimsical on vintage paper is usually presented in collaboration with artists from other spheres.
Collections –She collects anything and everything vintage. Right from matchboxes, matchbox holders, frames, mirrors, photos to aftershave lotion bottles fashioned like cars. I loved her collection of antiques and her ‘vintage stash’. But off course with Bakula, it’s the birds you see everywhere.
Bakula shows me a passage from a book that she is reading and it’s all about the ‘creative surplus’ in an artist which creates an interaction and ‘impels the artist to love and understand the world for its own sake.’ With inspiration, Bakula dips into books to understand and love the world. Bakula Nayak is an inspiration to explore all that is within you waiting to be explored and let free. It is not just her art, but her courage in exploring an aspect of herself which had not seen the light for twenty long years. Her courage in fighting back when her health is not great and losing herself in art which only shows love. Her poetry is a small window to her soul but she chooses to assert with love. Her home is a reflection of her personality and I have some lovely glimpses from her home. But that is for another day. Until then stay inspired. Light up from within.
Lots of Twinkles to all of you.
PS – Images of artwork by Bakula Nayak are her property and need her permission to be used.