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Phullan Rani

One, who has heard her name mentioned in so m

any quarters and for so long now tends to think that she must be an aging woman in her mid-seventies with a fading memory and a conservative outlook thriving on some nostalgia. Instead when one meets Mrs. Phullan Rani, the renowned artist of the Punjab, one is struck by her youth fullness, verve and vitality. Seemingly middle aged, she has managed to shed off decades out of her seventy two years and has an ever smiling countenance and a playful twinkle in her eyes. She immediately puts you at ease and becomes friendly within moments. A large number of fine portraits which cover every inch of her office-cum- home, speak volumes about the kind of work that her slender fingers have endeavoured to create over the years. Some excerpts from an interview by Dr. UMA ARORA.

 Q. Tell us something about your childhood.
PR. I have always lived in Amritsar. I was born and brought up here and was lucky to have parents who infused in me an the inspiration to paint. I remember, when l was in school. my  The fellow students would collect autographs of each other at the end of the session and I was asked by every one to draw something for them along with my signatures. At that time it made me feel very special. My father realised the spark in me and always encouraged me to strive for excellence in everything, especially painting.

Q. Who was your first teacher in painting?
PR. ln Amritsar, there used to be an artist Harivansh Mehra. He used to teach painting to young students. Once I saw him doing wash painting i.e. a technigue of Bengal school of arts in one of my friend's home. I was very impressed and asked him to teach me the same. He could not make much money out of his skill and died soon in deprivation and extreme poverty. However by God's grace I nevei looked back.
O. Which was your first memorable creation?
PR. When l got married I used to paint in my leisure time. My husband was an art critic and the renowned Painter of Punjab, Mr. Thakur Singh used to frequently visit our home. Once in a while I would show him my work. Once there was a painting exhibition in Shimla and he asked me to contribute something. ! painted 'Urvashi' in water colours and sent it for competition. Luckily it fetched a prize.
Q. Which is your favourite  medium of painting ?
PR. As such there are no favourites. I have worked in oil, on canvas, charcoal, pastels, and of course, water colours. Medium has never restricted me. The zest to create has been profound. I wanted to work and work without considering any commercial value'. Commercial success followed later automatically. Q. You have done lot of work on Sikh religion, how do you place religion in social life? PR. Religion is a way of life. lt is in the core of our hearts. Unfortunately, parochial outlook has distorted its real meaning. Basically, lam a very spiritual person and feel that the balance between mind and soul is as essential   for an artist as for anyone else. Rather .l would say more for an artist for whom it, is essential to be tuned to the ,superior Being and then to create right ,from the heart in order to bring the creation alive. Maintaining of mental peace is indispensable. Mind should be in communion with the universal self -reaching such a state becomes a form of God. This communion should be always maintained. I have been very impressed by the Sikh gurus and have done pictorial biographies of 'Guru Nanak Dev', and Guru Teg Bahadur' (forty paintings each). Both sets were sold and even their reproductions have been sold. This shows how much religion means to everyone. Only we should not be rigid and impose our beliefs and convictions on others. I am a member of World Conference for Religions of Peace. Universal religion is my religion and for my humanity is supreme. There is no piquancy in any religion as such. lt is said that religion has been politicised. True artist's religion is Nature.
Q.You have done so many portraits so would you like to be termed as a portrait painter?
PR. Not at all! I have done portraits but I have done landscapes and birds with equal interest. For me painting is an expression of my, innermost feelings. You can say I am a perfectionist. lf t bring life in it, there should be a twinkle in the eye and blossom of life on its face. Then only I feel I have completed it. lam very fussy about proportions too. All the features, be it lips, nose, ears, eyes, each angle of the figure should be in symmetry. Painting beautiful faces is a pleasure but it is important to create beauty out of our subjects. L once painted a mat-weaver. He was not handsome but had a charm of his own and each wrinkle on his face had a story to tell. The sadness on his aged face affected compassion beyond comprehension.

Q. How do you manage to remain so young and maintain such a smiling countenance?
PR. Creator and God's will keep me pushing. One should be  resigned to fate. That is the only way to maintain tranquility and balance. There should be "Santokh" in each one of us. Tuning with God is very important without which there is no equilibrium.
Q. Wnat is art?
PR. "At thing of beauty is a joy forever . Art is not only creating but a devotion and painting is a part of spirituality. lt is a realisation of Atma and Parmatma - lhe subject and the object. One should overcome one's shortcomings and create personal image. Originality is the most important factor for an artist. Work speaks volumes on behalf of the artist who has created it.
Q. What is your concept of a woman?
PR. She is a give janani, the janam dafa, the creator and the vital force.
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