New Delhi artist Ritika Sharma explores social behavior through people's daily travels on the capital city metro system, giving expression to the passengers' mute interactions and complex emotional states.
This recent body of works evolved with the idea of pleasant and convenient travel on the New Delhi metro, which is used by all sorts of people, from different classes and generations. My figurative compositions are the representation of observations and experiences of traveling in a chaotic environment.
Concisely concentrating on the idea of traveling, these paintings are an effort to understand the social behavior which tracks the invisible thread or hidden dialogue among strangers, and that often encounters the growing insensitivity and insecurity in our society. It also brings forth the women’s safety crisis in the capital city of India. It is an effort to track the essence of a journey through various elements leading to a continuous shift in emotional states.
Belonging to a middle class family and living on the outskirts of the city, traveling on public transportations has been a substantial part of my life. My habit of observing, and sketching people while traveling, accelerated the idea of painting the immediate reality that I was observing. It is then that I started to paint the series ‘Traveling with Insecurities’ and ‘Tangled Journey’, delineating the un-comfortableness of the female traveler and the ignorance of her fellow passengers.
The idea of the composition is accessed from my own experience of eve-teasing and the role of caitiff acts for changing emotional states. Being the cheapest and most convenient mode of transport, a lot of people, whether lower or middle class, educated or uneducated, the innocent or the pervert, travel all together on public transportations, creating a helter-skelter; my paintings are structured to showcase this ‘mobocracy’ of our society by creating harmony in chaos.
These paintings look beyond the gender caused insecurity to the privilege of having a ladies' coach¹, often highlighting multiculturalism, class based differences and dialogues among various age groups.
The pertinent portrayal of sign boards and advertisements adds another layer to this dialogue between the represented space and renditions. It also draws a sarcastic commentary on performing the prohibited activities inside the metro premises in a very stylized manner which are also referred as “Vain-Glory” in some compositions. The recent composition “Recalcitrant Bevy” is an example of this exploration. The aversions, ignorance and anxiety existing in today’s fast paced life style acted as a catalyst in the creation of these works.
Most of my paintings speaks in the medium of oil colors with some of them exploring the acrylic on canvas or reversely painted acrylic sheet.
Note ¹: the New Delhi metro offers women only coaches at the end of each train, where women travellers can feel safer.
Ritika Sharma is an artist based in New Delhi, India. She has received a MFA (2015-17) and a BFA (2011-15) in Painting from College of Art, Delhi University. She has participated in numerous art exhibitions, workshops, camps and residencies including, International Artists Residency 2017 with Art for Change Foundation; Moving Images with FICA and Serendipity Arts Trust; National Artist’s Camp 2017,at Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath, and she recently showed her works at NGMA(Bengaluru), Lalit Kala Akademy (New Delhi), Serendipity Arts Trust (New Delhi), NIV Art Centre and Kanoria Centre for Art (Ahmedabad). She has been awarded with “Sahitya Kala Parishad Award 2016”, Young Artist Scholarship by Ministry of Culture, and award in “All India Women Artist’s Contemporary Art Exhibition 2015” by Artscapes Chandigarh. She currently lives and works in New Delhi.