A cosmetic dental surgeon by profession and an artist by passion, Cuttack-based Ankita Chhawchharia Goenka was born in Assam and raised in Raipur. Following her marriage, she has been settled in Odisha for the past six years.
Painting since childhood, art comes naturally to Ankita. She is adept in various mediums like murals, 3D glass painting, Tanjore painting, Resin art, Pattachitra and Madhubani — all as a self-taught artist.
In just five years of her journey as a solo artist, which commenced from her show at Rashtriya Lalit Kala Kendra in Bhubaneswar, Ankita has held exhibitions at a number of prestigious places such Lalit Kala Academy in Delhi, Emami Art Gallery, National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai, Maha Kaushal Kala Vithika, Raipur and Hilton Art Smily Gallery and World Art, both in Dubai.
Excerpts from an exclusive interview with Odisha Bytes:
You were born in Assam, brought up in Chhattisgarh, educated in Maharashtra and now settled in Odisha. It sounds interesting indeed.
I am lucky to have lived in four different states. It has helped me experience the rich and varied cultures and lifestyles that India offers.
I was born in Assam. My father is a successful stock market analyst and businessman. My mother is a clinical psychologist and social activist. She is a known public figure in Chhattisgarh. Both of them decided to settle down in Raipur city. Thus, I had my schooling in Raipur and pursued my medical education at Wardha with specialization in root canal treatment.
When and how did you start painting?
My mother has always been my role model and she encouraged me to dabble in a number of extra-curricular activities. Thus, I was trained in classical dance of Kathak and wrote poems. I was also a swimmer and was selected for state-level championships. I learnt to draw and paint since I was a kid.
However, I had to stay away for many years from everything that I enjoyed doing as a student to concentrate in my career as a doctor. I was only able to pen poems during that phase to express myself.
After becoming a dental surgeon, I resumed painting and decided to focus on it. I did not have any formal training in art, but I had been very creative since the beginning. I loved learning all the art forms available locally like Madhubani, tribal art, brass sculpture, Tanjore paintings and glass painting.
As a matter of fact, I have tried my hands in almost everything. I make a point to learn any new art form I come across. Leaning any new form of art is quite easy these days as all the courses are available online. I believe it’s about one’s interest and inquisitiveness. Currently, I am doing Tanjore, Resin art, Fluid Art, Russian sculpture paintings, though I am focussed on mixed media and exploring abstract art.
Medical education and profession is quite demanding. One hardly gets any leisure to pursue any hobby. How do you manage?
I believe one can excel in more than one field. I completely love my profession as a dental surgeon, but art continues to be my heart’s calling. No matter how busy you are, you will always find time for what you love. I usually keep my mornings for my professional life and during the evenings, I pursue my passion in art and poetry.
Having so much of interest and talent in art, why didn’t you study art instead of medicine?
As a student, I did not even know that art could be a career choice. I was a good student and things were quite different during that time. The trend was that if you are a good student, you have to study science to be a doctor or an engineer.
However, I don’t regret for taking up a career in medical science. Indeed, I am happy about my decision and love my profession a lot. But, I also pursue my career with art with a professional attitude. It is never late to pursue a passion in life. I have learnt this from my mother who is my mentor and role model. She did her Ph.D. in psychology 20 years after her marriage and has produced many research papers.
How has been the response to your art at various exhibitions that you have participated in?
The response has been absolutely overwhelming. People have given amazing feedback and have always appreciated my art. But, please don’t confuse that with sale of my art. Especially here in India, I feel art is still under-rated and there is lack of awareness about the limitless scope of art. People here would still prefer to watch a movie than to go to an art exhibition.
Painting apart, what else do you love doing?
I am extremely passionate about traveling and exploring new places and cultures. Travelling for me is not about a luxury holiday, but a way to explore the world and learn new things and meet new people.
To what extent do you enjoy your profession as a cosmetic dental surgeon?
I absolutely love my profession. To me, dentistry is a classic combination of art and science. So it has a perfect appeal to me. I love smile designing and other cosmetic procedures. It’s like implementing art on people rather than on canvas. To relieve people of their pain and bring back a smile on their faces is really satisfying; it is as thrilling as looking at a painting that I have just completed.