Hamilton-based artist Bhairavi Jathar shares thoughts on painting, productivity and the pandemic
C/O Bhairavi Jathar
Bhairavi Jathar is a Hamilton-based artist with a passion for painting. Inspired by the impressionists who painted outdoors, Jathar particularly partakes in plein air painting. She has participated in live art shows across Ontario and her art was recently displayed in the Hamilton Artists Inc.’s window activation series.
Jathar grew up in Pune, India and first learned the basics of drawing and painting from her mother, who is also an artist. She went on to study commercial art and advertising and worked for many years as a graphic designer and illustrator.
“While [completing my studies], I realized that my passion for painting was still there. So I continued painting outdoors and I was always surrounded by great teachers, artists, friends and colleagues . . . so I also learned from them and that’s how my painting career started,” explained Jathar.
She also travelled with her husband as part of his job and during these travels, she had the opportunity to study French art. Jathar has always loved painting outside and it was also during these travels she had the chance to try plein air paintings. Later she pursued a master of art to get more insight about Indian and western art.
Jathar immigrated to Canada in 2014 and continued to work as a graphic designer for a few years. Then in 2017, she decided to become a full-time artist. During these years, she began volunteering at an art centre that hosted live painting events.
These events are often paired with an auction, so as the artists are painting in front of their audience, the audience is also bidding on the paintings being created.
“These events are very, very interactive because you get to talk to your audience and they can give you feedback because they see you painting and it gives you motivation,” explained Jathar.
Jathar began participating in these shows at the art centre but went on to participate in others across Ontario. In recent years, she has successfully participated in, juried and curated exhibitions in art galleries in Brantford, Brampton, Hamilton, Mississauga, Paris, St. Catharines and Toronto.
Unfortunately, the pandemic not only shuttered many galleries but also put many of the live events Jathar enjoyed on hold indefinitely. Despite these setbacks, Jathar noted the last year has been her most productive.
Over the last few months, she has been working on a series of paintings depicting important heritage buildings in Hamilton and some of the surrounding towns in Ontario.
“Every city has one building which is prominent there and that city is known by that [building’s] old architecture and so those things are also captured in my paintings . . . every painting is from a different city, in different seasons. So even though it’s the same spot, in every season, it looks different,” Jathar explained.
Jathar hopes her art brings people some joy but more broadly she hopes that whatever the scene may be, people are able to connect to it and see something of themselves in her art.
Moving forward she hopes to do a series of more conceptual art around the themes of immigration and balancing different cultures.
“As an immigrant, how do I feel and how my culture is still here . . . and because my kids are growing up here, I always feel that I need to adjust with some things, which I never faced earlier. I grew up in a different atmosphere and my kids are growing [up] in a different atmosphere, so I always try to balance those things. That’s what I want to show [in this series],” explained Jathar.
Jathar has also been offering virtual art lessons for children and adults over the last few months and offered some words of encouragement for students.
“I would [tell them] keep doing what they want to do and don’t get distracted with what others are doing. You keep doing your work, your art, because sometimes what happens is we see others are doing something different and sometimes we feel that maybe we are the odd one out, but don’t think that way. You keep doing whatever you’re doing,” Jathar said.