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Traditional, Modern & Contemporary Indian Art Traditional, Modern & Contemporary Indian Art REKHA RAO (B. 1947)
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Acquired directly from the artist
In the diptych here, started in 2008 and completed in 2010, from a sold out series, depicting Meena Kumari, the legendary film actress of the 1950s & 60s, is striking in evoking colourful nostalgia combined with melancholy. Born as Mahjabeen Bano, she was popularly known as 'the Tragedy Queen', 'Chinese Doll' and the 'Cinderella' of Indian films. Ironically, her screen persona translated to her personal life and she died at a very young age of 38. She requested the following prose on her tombstone - "She ended life with a broken fiddle, with a broken song, with a broken heart, but not a single regret".
"Growing up in the 60's and 70's, I was vaguely drawn towards Fabian and socialistic ideas as expressed by Pandit Nehru. My father K K Hebbar was a great admirer of Panditji and often met him and had tea with him. He was commissioned to paint several portraits of political leaders of the time. During this period my father and his friend T S Hegde would often meet at actor Balraj Sahni's place in Juhu, Mumbai. It was also the time when IPTA (Indian People's Theatre Association) was active. I sometimes accompanied my father. It was in one such meeting that I met Meena Kumari the then reigning star of Indian cinema. She was a budding poet. I noticed a strange intense, alabaster, ephemeral quality on her face which was disquieting. That image remained etched in my memory which in a later canvas I translated as "Introspection"".
- Rekha Rao
Born in 1947, Rekha Rao studied painting under her eminent artist father K K Hebbar. She holds a post-graduate degree in History from Bombay University. She held her first solo show at Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai in 1969 which was followed by several solo shows in prominent galleries, group shows and art camps in India and abroad.
Rekha's paintings are in the collection of National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) - Mumbai, Lalit Kala Akademi - New Delhi, Singapore National Museum, Glennbara Museum, Meiji-mura and Fukuoka Gallery (both in Japan) and Venkatappa Art Gallery - Bengaluru besides several corporate collections like Wipro, MSIL, Reliance Harmony, State Bank of India (SBI) and Rettbergs Germany to name a few. She has participated in the 1V Triennale India and the Asian Biennale, Dhaka apart from several national and international art camps in the past three decades.
She won the Suvarna Karnataka Rajyotsava Award in 2006 and has also been the recipient of the Maharashtra State Award, the Lalit Kala Akademi Award, Lucknow and the Critics Award, Mumbai. She lives and works in Bengaluru.
"Though abstract formulations are the structural build up of her works, it is people who populate her canvases. Her observation and empathy for the common people and their day-to-day chores have been the focus of many of her creations. Her use of intense forms and brilliant colours, light up the canvases creating an exuberance traceable to her own personality" - Yusuf Arakkal (1945-2016) in foreword to Rekha Rao: The Expediency of Colour by Kaveri Ponnapa, 2009.