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Art That Gives Back

Tuesday, May 10, 2016
Image credit: Nitesh Juvale / HRM

Artist, entrepreneur and storyteller, Preeti Thaker Arora engages with nature in her work. Here, she talks to Rhea Dhanbhoora about her art and inspirations

Known for what is called confessional art, Preeti Thaker Arora has entered a space of spirituality when it comes to her paintings. Her work captures cosmic themes and focuses on healing and meditation and she was also once director of operations in a corporate firm in Malaysia, before she found her calling as an artist. Also associated with NGOs such as Khushi, the Blind Association of India, Beti and Seva, she donates 50% of the proceeds of her paintings to charity. We spoke to her to find out more about her hobbies, her inspiration and much more.

While your passion drove you to art, were you worried about the financial impact of moving away from the corporate world? How did you make it work?
The People’s Place, an apparel store that I launched back in 2005, was doing well. I was financially well off, so I didn’t have to deal with any insecurity at the time. Unfortunately, I had to stop operations in order to pursue a huge corporate opportunity in Malaysia. As time passed, I decided to leave Malaysia and come to India, because I wanted to revive the company that I had started all those years ago. But, this time it was focused on my art.

You are from Baroda — a city known for having quite an artistic side. Did the city, and its monuments, play any role in developing your passion for art? Do they serve as inspiration for you today?
Oh yes; absolutely! I have always been inspired by the beauty of the Raj Mahal, which is owned by Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad, who was extremely passionate about art. He built a museum in his palace, which houses gorgeous paintings that are almost 200-years-old and is also open to visitors. He also owns the university that I studied in, where The Fine Arts section is known to be the most beautiful in India. Students of different nationalities from all over the world study here. I had a lot of friends there but unfortunately, I couldn’t pursue art myself back then.

I am a self-taught artist. For my Bachelor of Arts degree, I majored in English Literature with a minor in psychology. I then pursued computer science to become a computer engineer. Today, I am living my childhood dream, am extremely inspired and in a very happy place.

We’ve seen your paintings online and something that is immediately noticeable about them is that they would blend in easily with most home décor themes. Is this a conscious effort on your part?
Yes. I choose the colours very consciously and make sure that they blend in evenly so that they will complement and match any upholstery or wall colour.

Tell us something about your support of and association with various NGOs. Women’s rights and safety are among the several causes that you work for. Is it a theme that can be seen in all of your paintings?
Without sounding too pompous, I would like to state that my aim is to support the underprivileged by donating the money I make after selling my art. I would stop painting the day I decided otherwise. I also donate my paintings to various charity homes in order to help them raise funds. The Khushi foundation is one of them. I’m currently in the process of helping acid attack survivors and the physically challenged, by extending jobs to them in our commercial company, SWOT Consultancy Ltd., which is engaged in credit card sales and collections. It’s run by my husband, Sandeep  Singh Arora.

What do you have to say about the general public’s understanding of art, especially different painting styles? Are people becoming more aware of the forms of art?
Some works of art are meant to shock, while others aim to please, some are meant to jump out at you, and others to sit quietly in the background. But, in the end, all art has to work on an audience. The person and their individual preferences matter, but yes, I think people are more aware of art now.

Which cities across the world would you say are the most artistic?
One of the first cities that comes to mind when I think of art is Paris. So, Paris ranks at the top but other cities such as Berlin, Amsterdam, London, Miami, Florida, San Francisco and Rome are also some of the most artistic cities in the world.

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