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    I Want to Live is inspired by the Delhi rape victim

    If love can be a muse, then so can rage. For Delhi-based artist, Surjit Akre, the 2012 gang rape in the city stirred something in  her. “I was very disturbed after I heard about the rape. I started painting my anger on canvas. That is how the I Want to Live collection evolved,” says the painter, who’s bringing her work to Chennai for a solo exhibition. According to Akre, the figurative paintings highlight the status of women and drives home the point that we need a revolutionary change in the Indian man’s mindset.

    Akre uses a ‘story-telling’ method in her work to get her messages across. Like when she realised how traditional North Indian women are mostly home-bound. ‘‘It made me highlight the woman in need (in my work). I created a 35-painting museum collection called Knowledge is Power, which is about women who have overcome their anxieties and reached powerful levels,” she says.

    Akre is the first Indian to get a scholarship to study ‘Easel Painting’ at the Repin Institute of Painting, Russia. “When I studied in Russia, we were taught their classical art. I still use that in my paintings,” says the artist. “Personally, I was always in awe of European and traditional Indian art. My work is a blend of all the three.”
    Akre, who hails from arantaran in Punjab, has held over 50 solo exhibitions worldwide, and has worked with a range of media—from acrylic and water colour to pastels and ink. But her favourite is oil on canvas because “it’s very durable”.

    At Lalit Kala Academy, December 16 to 22. Details: 28291692
    —Amrutha Ananth

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