In Sanskrit, Chitra means a painting or a picture. For decades Indianapolis artist Chitra Ramanathan has been living up to her name, producing wonderfully layered paintings. Though Chitra Ramanathan wears many hats on any given day, they all relate to her involvement in the global and Indianapolis art scenes. This one of a kind artists creates stunning, bright, colorful and powerful mixed-media paintings.
Born in India, Chitra Ramanathan began her career drawing and painting at the young age of four. She first engaged with both art and music as a weekend art school for children. She showed her talent early as her paintings began to be entered in to competitions. Chitra earned many top prizes as a prodigy artist, including first prize in the Hindustan Unilever Limited national child art competition at ten, a silver trophy awarded by respected sculptor Chintamani Kar (principal of the Government College of Art and Craft), and a sought after spot in an exhibition produced by the Birla Academy of Art and Culture Kolkata at only eleven.
Chitra Ramanathan went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in Fine Arts from Stella Maris College in Chennai, India. In 1984, Chitra immigrated to the United States, where she continued to study painting at the College of Art and Design at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. While enrolled at the University of Illinois, Chitra was afforded the opportunity to study abroad in Paris, France. The trip would prove to be extremely formative for Chitra as she spent an extensive amount of time studying at Claude Monet’s garden in Giverny, France.
After earning a second Bachelors Degree there, she completed and Masters of Business Administration in Human Resources and Art Museum Administration. In the process she worked as intern at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York.
Since then Chitra Ramanathan’s work has gained national and international attention with dealers across the United States and Europe seeking to own her original paintings. She currently teaches drawing, acrylics and mixed media painting at the Indianapolis Art Center. Occasionally she is invited as a guest lecture at some of the largest Indiana colleges and universities.
In 2005 she was invited to travel to the Royal Academy of Arts in London to share a visual presentation of her work. In addition she has been offered adjunct professor positions, been an artist in residence, collaborated on team projects, juried exhibitions and more as she continues to engage with Indianapolis culture.
Chitra Ramanathan’s mixed media paintings utilize intense color and multiple layers of texture, which work to interact with light. Usually on Plexiglas and anodized aluminum, her paintings are a vibrant expression of happiness through her concept/ process of “formless form.” The Manhattan Arts International magazine described her work, “Hints of circles signify the human life cycle, trying times followed by happy phases and of life and rebirth influenced by her roots from India. Her paintings on varied surfaces have been described as ‘tactile works that resonate quiet harmony.”
Her thematic body of paintings is based largely on her interaction with Claude Monet’s garden in Giverny, France during her period of study abroad. Her work is fleeting and ephemeral, inspired by “short lived garden blooms and continually evolving seasons.” Based largely on her background growing up in India, her work is an abstract visual representation of the serenity and hardship of the life cycle.
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