Focus: Artist Deepa Khanna Sobti
Art Republik explores the complex mind of Deepa Khanna Sobti.
“It is hard to take ownership of anything and try to ascribe reasons as to why life is the way it is, since everything happens mysteriously by itself,” says Singaporean artist Deepa Khanna Sobti.
Despite having no formal education in art or philosophy, Sobti gave up a decade long career in banking and finance to pursue her true passion in art and poetry. Although this came as a huge change in course to the MBA holder, she had always believed in embracing changes in her life in pursuit of its ultimate meanings. This curiosity led to a life long journey of the mind and its manifestations, which form the main themes in her works.
Originally from India, Sobti began painting about 15 years ago and started writing poetry about two years ago. Although she has only recently been more active in the art scene, her works have already gained recognition in Europe. Her first gallery representation commenced recently with Walton Fine Arts, London, and some of her works has recently been selected for Art Museum Chianciano’s Art Biennale in Italy.
Sobti’s art style is abstract expressionist, delving into the depths of the imaginary worlds she creates. Using only a palette knife, she spontaneously rides with whatever she comes up with in her head without any judgment or inhibitions. Sobti rarely has a specific plan or image for her to start her work. Instead, she keeps going until her eye, and not her mind, tells her that her work is complete.
The irregular patches of colour against the black backdrop in her work create a lyrical image. The densely layered paint is applied on the canvas and the palette knife creates explosions of wonder colour amidst darkness. Due to the repetitive use of the palette knife, her abstractions produced unconsciously yield a composition of interesting shapes and forms. She often looks to strike a balance and depth within her painting to form new shapes that do not have semblance of a predictable or particularised form.
Sobti’s greatest inspiration for her work is the nature and processes of corrosion and erosion. The blending of natural pigments and materials within her artwork intrigue and invites the viewer into the unbelievable and dramatic worlds she creates.
Growing up, she would describe life as a fearful and scary world where she, in her own words, “spent several decades trying to change, blame, or work around.” Reading the book ‘Many Lives, Many Masters’ made her see the inseparability of events, and that no event happens in isolation. Her realisations about oneness through reading and listening to talks on non-duality made her understand that the whole universe exists in the mind only. Hence, her process centres around the exploring the manifestations of the mind, allowing her mind-body to effortlessly perform what it is best programmed to do.
Overall, her work strives to probe the viewers to question their most venerate beliefs, and their role as a solitary individual in a world that they cannot exist separately from. Her website reads out ‘emptiness is full’, based upon the idea of the ‘everything’ and the ‘nothing’, and that one should loosen their inhibitions and empty their thoughts to investigate their present experience, and to realise what reality really is.
Sobti has also written many poems to accompany her artworks. The art and poetry combination is unique and allows the viewer a deeper insight into her mind. There are more than 160 poems on her website, where 75% of profits made from the sale of works are donated to charity.
“In one thought, this emptiness contains the entire universe”, writes Sobti in one of her poems. With this, she represents our shared desire to live in this universe filled with mystery and beauty. Her powerful symphony of flaming colours captures the vibrant human spirit. It generates substantiality and strength meant to overwhelm the viewer, drawing them in to the powerful universe she spontaneously renders on a canvas – she is an artist and writer that leaves a mark in our consciousness.
*For more information, please visit www.emptinessisfull.com
This article was originally published in Art Republik