Site-specific Public Art Mural for Educational Institution 2008
About Chitra Ramanathan
Educator and professional artist Chitra Ramanathan's current series of mixed media paintings portray the mental emotion of happiness as a visual entity through intense colors and multiple layers of textures that attract light from various angles, pushing the boundaries of her paintings beyond the confines of their two-dimensional surfaces. She is inspired by short-lived garden blooms and constantly changing seasons in nature, characteristics that attribute to the ephemeral, fleeting and enticingly beautiful happiness' "formless form": a phrase she has coined to describe her concept. The hint of circles almost always present in her work signify the cycle of human life: trying times followed by happy phases in a positive sense, and of life and rebirth influenced by her roots from India.
Her paintings have been described as "tactile works that resonate with a quiet harmony" and "Simply luxurious" by Manhattan Arts, New York. To quote from an excerpt from an interview with the artist, "Chitra's paintings exemplify her love of nature as well as the subjectivity of each individual's unique pursuit of happiness. Her painting procedure often entails making mental notes of a scene in nature, including the lighting, colors, and textures. She then uses these impressions in her studio to replicate the subject matter in an abstracted form, using rich physical textures, intense colors, and varied media".
She produces predominantly large scale abstract conceptual mixed media paintings, drawings, prints, site-specific installation works, and sculpture that have been exhibited in art galleries in SoHo, Broadway Manhattan, New York, solo exhibition at the ARC Gallery & Educational Foundation at Chicago, and more recently a solo exhibition at the Indianapolis Artsgarden, Circle Centre.
Several of her colorful mixed media paintings are owned by art collectors around the United States and in Europe including donation of two large scale paintings on permanent display in the conference hall of the College of Medicine at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign since 1995, a painting sold at the Madam C.J. Walker Theatre Center, Indianapolis towards benefit to the Eightieth Birthday Benefit Gala Silent and Live art auction in 2006, and a large-sized mixed media custom painting created in April 2008 for the Indianapolis International Film Festival 2008 that she based on a 1979 Hollywood movie "Breaking Away".
Commissions include a series of post-card paintings for the Florida International University Department of Art, Miami, Florida in 2005 to coincide with Art Basel Miami 2005 and a series of ten post-card sized paintings for the Indianapolis Museum of Art's permanent exhibit tilted "Gallery of the Machine" in 2006 where paintings were sold on a vending macheine.
Recently completed commission entailed creating a permanent wall mural measuring 13.8 feet wide and 4 feet high, for the front lobby of Crooked Creek Elementary School, Marion County, Indianapolis, this March 2008 site specific public art project made possible through a grant to the school by the Metropolitan School Foundation which is a public school district in Indianapolis.
Earlier site specific public art commissions and installation art projects include two large paintings for the MGM Mirage that are permanently housed inside the Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Las Vegas since 2004, and five large-scale multi-media paintings for the Arts Council of Indianapolis at Chase Towers near Monument Circle, Indianapolis from July 2006-February 2007, a project supported by the Indianapolis Cultural Development Commission.
Academically, Chitra Ramanathan's work has attracted invitational Visiting Artist lectures to educational institutions such as most recently the Royal Academy of Arts/Royal Academy Schools in London, England. Chitra earned her second Bachelors of Fine Arts in Painting with Honors in 1993 during which period she allotted time to study Painting and Art History in Paris, France, with visits to Giverny, France that influenced her later work. Her paintings are currently represented by Artprice.com Auction House, France. Web URL: http://web.artprice.com/artistdetails.aspx?idarti=ODcxNjMxMTc1MDY2MDY4My0=
Extensive body of paintings depicting happiness portrayed as a "formless form" as a visual entity
Her mixed-media paintings on and behind Plexiglas
Predominantly large-scale work
Member, Committee on Cultural Diversity Practices, College Art Association, New York. 2007-2010 (http://www.collegeart.org/committees/diversity.htm Member, Services to Artists Committee from 2003-06)
She was educated at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, USA: Master of Business Administration Concentration: Arts Administration & Human Resources Art Internship: New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York 1997.
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honors) Major: Painting 1993.
Stella Maris College, Chennai, India: Bachelor of Fine Arts, 1979.
Recent media comments
*Says a recent collector of Chitra's painting who is an art connoisseur and a former staffer of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, "I first met Chitra when I took her classes at the Indianapolis Art Center. I wanted a painting by Chitra because I like the feeling her abstract work evokes. I like the way her paintings make me feel and think; and I like how she communicates so much with a subtle use of color or a tiny brush stroke.....There is so much in our world today that can be considered "negative", that I like art around me that offers hope and that reaches for joy. For me, her paintings do that"-Alice Irvan, President, AIRvan Consulting, LLC, Indianapolis U.S.A.
2004 site-specific public art commission for MGM Mirage to create two paintings both measuring 4 feet X 6 feet in dimension and signed by the artist are on display inside the Bellagio Conservatory, Las Vegas.
Two of her large-scale paintings are permanently displayed and owned by the College of Medicine at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1995).
Her first solo exhibition in the U.S was hosted by the ARC Gallery and Educational Foundation at Chicago in 1994. This major exhibition featured her paintings as well as sculptures and prints (monoprints and lithographs). The Chicago exhibition was followed by shows at different art galleries on Broadway, New York from 1995-1998.
She coined the phrase "formless forms" to describe her visual depiction of happiness, an emotion of the mind, in her extensive body of colorful paintings with myriad textures.
Calls her images of happiness "formless forms", while portraying that emotion of the mind as a visual entity.
She received the Liquitex "Excellence in Art" Product Grants for two consecutive years (1994 and 1995) from Binney and Smith Inc., makers of Crayola crayons.
Has spent a month painting and drawing entire days in Paris, France that inspired her current work. Speaks very little French.
The Indianapolis Artsgarden was the venue of the most recent solo exhibition of her signature paintings.
To date, most of her signature style paintings have got sold to collectors in the state of California.
Has taught courses and workshops in Acrylic painting and Mixed media painting at the Indianapolis Art Center since 2004.
The major influence for her current body of work stemmed from keenly observing the gardens from inside the Claude Monet House during visits to Giverny. Her favorite painting, The Waterlily Pond, 1897.
Happiness is the common thread that runs through her expressive, highly textured abstract paintings awash with bold, vibrant colors.
Her biography is listed in the national directory Who's Who in America 2008.
Her 1998 and 2000 originals titled "A Momentary Glance", and "Coruscation" respectively, were the originals works upon which two large-scale paintings on canvas signed by the artist were created for MGM Mirage for the Bellagio, Las Vegas in 2004. "Coruscation", a mixed-media painting on canvas measuring 18 inches X 24 inches, is owned by an Indianapolis based collector who acquired it in 2006.
Entered the University of Illinois in 1991 with a course in Cinematography.
While earning her M.B.A, she was commissioned to officially create an original T-shirt logo depicting the Summer Olympics 1996 held at Atlanta. The T-shirts were created to welcome the "Illinois M.B.A"'s class of 1998.