Connoisseur Of Art - Anju Poddar

Art is the ultimate form of expression. To be its true connoisseur, you really have to appreciate it in every form, shape and size. Be it a well-choreographed dance or a beautifully crafted sculpture, art appreciation varies from one person to the next. Anju Poddar, writer, traveller and avid art collector, sat down to give us her take on art, her favourite pieces and designers.

Where does your passion for art come from?
When I was growing up in my parent’s house, everything was always well synchronised. It was a beautiful house. I was studying in a boarding school; so I already had quite a bit of exposure to art. But when I came back to Hyderabad after studying in the States, I got in touch with M.F. Husain. He became a dear friend, staying with me whenever he came down to the city. Later on, my next door neighbor happened to be Laxma Goud, who was on a TV station at the time. We used to meet often and eventually I got connected to Jagdish Mittal. So between the three of them, they helped make me very aware of art.

When did you begin collecting?
I think it was in 1973. My first piece was a Laxma Goud painting. I still have it hanging in my drawing room.

Do you have a favourite artist?
I just cannot pick one. I like different artists in different genres. I like M.F. Husain, I like Thota Vaikuntam, Ganesh Pyne, and Bikash Bhattacharjee. And from present day art, I enjoy Jagdish Kala’s work, along with lots of sculpture work like Ravinder Reddy. Absolutely love Ravinder Reddy.

Are you an artist yourself?
Not really. I learned how to paint at one point, but what I truly love is to see artwork on the wall. I love putting things together, such as a dining table, or dressing myself up, maybe arranging the flowers in the house; I believe that is also a type of art. I like synchronising things so that they are pleasing to the eye. All the senses get stimulated when things are in sync.

What sort of art do you enjoy the most?
Initially, I was more inclined towards paintings, more of figurative art. But as I am growing, my taste is evolving too. I am becoming very fond of sculpture. I do still enjoy a good photograph or a beautiful tapestry. A little bit of everything that is well balanced with good work. All my senses get activated, and they make me extremely happy.

Do you get attached to your pieces? What is your most prized possession?
Oh, yes! Art is a friend, and so I get very attached to all my pieces. Sometimes, I buy something new in exchange for one of my artworks and I feel so sad. Giving every piece away is like giving away a piece of me. Every piece has a story behind it. One artwork I might have taken when my daughter got engaged, and now I associate it with that time. All my possessions represent some point of my life. Most of the paintings have been bought directly from the artists, so every piece has its own story and importance in my life. When it comes to prized possessions, M.F. Husain did a large portrait of me. I am quite attached to that. It still hangs in a very prominent place.

Is your family as fond of art as you are?
My children are very fond of art, and so I have given most of my very good artwork to my daughters, Pallavi and Avantika. My granddaughter, Avni, and my husband are also inclined towards art.