Shobana Udayasankar is an artist specializing in the Mysore traditional school of art. Her portfolio of works evidences an intelligent mix of innovation and tradition and her paintings are rooted in a mix of passion, technical expertise and creativity. Shobana’s expertise and proficiency in the field was recognized jointly by the All India Fine Arts and Crafts Society and the Karnataka Lalitakala Akademi through the conferment of the Millenium Artist Award in the year 2000.
Her recent shows in Delhi (2012: Arpana Caur Gallery) and Gurgaon (2013: Epicentre Art Gallery) have been well-received, with visitors taking delight in viewing and learning about this art.
While Shobana has always displayed a strong passion for art in various forms, she was attracted to the deeply-meaningful representations and cultural richness of traditional Indian art styles. Driven to discover the less-commercialized roots of such disciplines, she began to learn traditional Mysore school of art – a stream that has, till recently, remained in the shadow of its more common sister art form, Tanjore art.
An expert especially in the extremely minute and intricate ‘gesso’ work that is used to create an embossed effect in these paintings, Shobana’s mission is to revive interest in the Mysore style by making it accessible and relevant to contemporary audiences, without compromising on its artistic meaning or the integrity of its style and methods. She has dedicated the last two decades to the pursuit of this goal, going though rigorous training under the master artist Dundaraja as well as advanced training under the renowned Mysore royal palace artist and curator, the late Shri. Ramanarasaiah.
At the same time, driven by a passion for the art and a disciplined practice, she also developed her own unique portfolio of creations in keeping with her mission to popularize this art form.
Shobana’s approach is to capture the traditional, mythological subjects and events that are the mainstay of Mysore Art through rare, but technically-authentic, depictions. She focuses, in equal part, on traditional but rare, symbolism-rich images that remain lost in archives but at the same time, she aims to bring in a new dynamism to Mysore Art through the adaptation and incorporation of non-traditional representations from completely novel viewpoints, such as Balinese and Thai culture. To do so, she combines her interest in and deep knowledge of scripture and mythology with her flawless technique and skill in the art.
In this way, Shobana’s work will appeal to purists seeking the preservation of a precise, traditional art form in all its complexity, as well as to contemporary audiences who are eager to find novel representations and intricate compositions without compromise on technique – particularly the intricate embossing, muted colouring and realistic proportions that are essential to this art discipline.
Shobana has also exclusively trained a small number of skilled and diligent students, in a bid to pass on her knowledge about the art and contribute to its persistence. She is also an exponent of Carnatic music and plays the Veena since childhood.