About the Artist
Kavita Issar Batra is a British artist of mixed Indo-British origin, who grew up in India and spent twenty years in the UK. She has been based in Singapore since 2009. Batra learnt her craft traditionally from various well-established artists and teachers in the UK and in Singapore – notably James Holdsworth (UK) and David Kelly (Australia). Her artistic oeuvre spans monotype printmaking, painting (various mediums), photography/video and installation. Her works are held in private collections in the UK, USA, Europe, Dubai, India, Australia and Singapore.
Besides her studio practice, Batra has been a volunteer docent at the Singapore Art Museum since September 2011. She has also guided and volunteered at Art Stage, Singapore for five editions spanning from 2012 to 2016.
After an immersive and harrowing couple of months caring for my mother in the hospital and at home, I returned to the studio. The subsequent works that emerged, such as You float better when you trust the water and Musings, were processually and aesthetically cathartic. The natural and urban litter that imprint their shapes take on anthropomorphic qualities; they speak of the importance of trusting the universe and oneself, of resilience and the power of belief. Two years on, I relook at these works through the lens of our global pandemic; the forms, textures and materials resonate on a much amplified collective level – the only way we can get through it is by fostering co-dependence and trust.
My fascination with plant matter and urban litter, or what I term “pavement poetry” that I come across on my daily walks, has been evolving over the past eight years. Mid-2019, I experimented with creating monotypes on rice paper, incorporating delicate yet expressive sumi-e ink brushwork in some of them. Storms make trees take deeper roots is part of the Pavement Poetry series. I had simultaneously been listening to a programme on the shrinking colonies of emperor and king penguins, due to climate change and global warming which had caused the ice floes to melt. In the midst of making the work, I realised some of the imprinted leaves had penguin-like forms also creating an idyll, unlike the one inhabited by the penguins in real life. The organic nature of the plants and their eventual shift in form and colour over time further deepen this encounter. It is, perhaps, a hankering for kinder and more forgiving times.
All images courtesy of Rajbir Ahluwalia and the Artist.