Create! Magazine is pleased to share an exclusive interview with Radhika Bhoite, a painter born and raised in India who currently lives and works in the US.
Radhika Bhoite earned her BSc in Information Technology in 2010 and MBA in Marketing in 2013 from the University of Mumbai in India. She moved to the USA in 2014 to pursue her lifelong passion for fine art and has been honing her skills since then. Bhoite first trained at art centers in Raleigh, NC, and then with the Studio Art faculty at the College of William & Mary from 2017-2019. In the summer of 2018, she completed the Arbor Vitae Painting Marathon at the New York Studio School (NYSS). Bhoite has exhibited around the United States with galleries in Charlotte, Key West, Laguna Beach, Fayetteville, Cary and Raleigh. From 2015-2016, she was an active member of the ‘VAE Plein Aire Painters Group’ in Raleigh, NC. She is listed on the All SHE Makes curated online directory of women creatives worldwide, and in the Where Are The Women Artists directory.
Who or what initially sparked your interest in art?
Although no one in my family went to art school or practiced fine art, it was just the creative environment I was brought up in that made art a natural part of my life. My dad is an interior designer, and because he worked from home, I was exposed to color and design at an early age. I remember artists such as S.H. Raza, M.F. Hussain, F.N. Souza, and V.S. Gaitonde from the Bombay Progressive Art Group always being in the news, and being intrigued by what they were up to. I was also drawn to the watercolor backgrounds in cartoons that I watched. Additionally, I spent most summers at my grandmother’s place, where her quilt-making exposed me to my traditional art-making heritage.
How did you develop your skills and when did you begin to pursue art professionally?
I started painting with watercolors at a young age, learning from books by artists like Milind Mulick. After completing my MBA, I decided to pursue fine art professionally and moved to the United States in 2014. I began learning everything from watercolor, oil painting, clay, and metal, to printmaking at art centers in Raleigh, NC, where I was fortunate to find dedicated teachers and mentors who were very active in the local art communities. I exhibited my work for the first time in student shows in 2015, followed by several juried shows in the years after. After moving to Williamsburg, VA in 2017, I trained with the Studio Art faculty at William & Mary (W&M) until 2019 and completed the Arbor Vitae Painting Marathon at the New York Studio School (NYSS). While most of my work before 2019 is representational, owing to influences in Raleigh and at W&M, I spent a good part of 2019 focusing on abstract painting and developing my own approach.
Tell us about your current work, which draws from your childhood memories and your heritage. What ideas do you explore and how do you express them visually?
I think being away from home for so long made me go back to my roots. During the pandemic, my happiest childhood memories helped me stay positive. Not being able to travel to meet loved ones made me appreciate the good times spent in the past. The memories of growing up in India in the 90s came flooding in and became a topic to explore for my current paintings. The ideas for my paintings come from both the vibrant 90s pop culture, and also my research into traditional Indian quilt-making, and specifically, the godhadis that my grandmother used to make. The paintings explore the ideas of warmth, comfort, heritage, and a happy place through memories and nostalgia. I build the shapes and forms through meditative watercolors, influenced by the visuals from cartoons, music channels, and other cultural influences of the 90s. I associate colors with certain moments from memory, and derive the patterns from traditional Maharashtrian quilting, and also from the retro era.
How do you find new inspiration when you get stuck?
For inspiration, I like to scroll through the photos on my phone, esp. pictures I took more than a year ago. I'm always taking photos of anything that catches my eye; textures, color combinations, a good composition, etc. It's like looking at something familiar but new. It also reminds me of specific things, like a conversation I was having with a friend the day I took the photo, or a hike or something I ate. This always helps me get back in and start a new painting about it or gain perspective on something in progress.
What is one lesson you've learned from being an artist? One thing you wish you knew earlier in your art career?
One lesson I have learned is that building a sustainable art practice is a long game. That is, thinking long-term and pacing yourself are extremely important, and both are things I am trying to get better at, as doing everything in one go will certainly result in burnout.
One thing I wish I knew early in my career is that you don’t have to do it all alone! I realized this especially after joining a few artist communities, and the difference that brought to my practice. Artists have to juggle many tasks aside from their craft, and having a community of artists, and asking for help when you need it, really makes your practice much less stressful.
You have a solo show "Retro Rewind" that opened recently, congratulations! Can you share a bit about the work you're exhibiting?
Thank you! “Retro Rewind” is composed of three interconnected series that express my childhood memories, building from the nostalgia of traditions interspersed with the vibrance of the retro era. “Mindshapes” are watercolor paintings that come from a happy place for me, which happens to be growing up in India surrounded by early 90s pop. The acrylic paintings in “Terrace Tetris” represent a time in my childhood spent on rooftop terraces in India, playing, flying kites, or helping my family with chores such as drying clothes or making traditional quilts (godhadis). The series “Godhadi” is influenced by my grandmother’s traditional, hand-stitched quilts called godhadis, which are made over several months from old sarees in the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat in India. The show will be up from October 20 to November 20 at the Revelstoke Visual Arts Centre in BC, Canada.
Alicia Puig has been a contributing writer for Create! Magazine since 2017.