Nationally revered as one of the finest artists of India, Mrs. Kamla Kabra is the pioneer of broken glass painting in the world. Her unique art form has impressed and received huge accolades from many eminent personalities from the Indian cultural scene. An artist par excellence & perfection, Mrs. Kabra has by far exhibited near about 100 broken glass paintings.
The widely acclaimed septuagenarian painter was born in colonial India in the year 1939 on February 5, in a cultured, progressive & socially active Rajasthani family. Her father Shri Shobhachand Tapadia was a strong Gandhian who was involved in the noble endeavour of forwarding female education and widow-remarriage in the prejudiced India. He was awarded with Bhamashah Award by Rajasthan Government for his contribution to Education. Such a liberal family ambience was surely a great inspiration for Kamlaji to explore her keen artistic instincts later on, in a country where women are mainly kept confined to kitchen and domestic chores.
She was fortunate enough to be married to the world renowned guitarist Pt. Brij Bhushan Kabra who introduced Guitar in the field of Indian Classical Music. Her father-in-law “Shahji Gowardhanlal Kabra” was known as Jewel of Rajasthan, a great educationist, industrialist, philosopher, musicologist and inspiration for all generation.Kamlaji has always been keenly enthusiastic about art & painting but it was the encouragement from her father-in-law that actually rendered her the desired fillip to explore her love for art. However, interestingly, the famous broken glass painter did not start her painting odyssey with the broken pieces- rather she has evolved gradually by trying her hand at various aspects of painting.
Kamlaji had her first formal stint with painting at the age of 26 (1964), when she took to learning the art of water painting. But as a dedicated daughter-in-law of a typical Indian joint family, her over-occupation with family responsibilities hindered her from committing adequate attention to the aspect she was so passionate about. However, destiny had its own plans and situations started to change when Kamlaji moved to Ahmedabad with her husband in 1967.
Though Kamla ji had always been fond of broken glasses (and she even used to archive them) yet she had no such notion of turning them into art forms initially. Kamlaji’s artistic tryst with broken glasses began with a rather simple yet loving mother-child domestic tale. In a summer of 1977, Kamlaji’s little daughter Anuradha was insisting her mother to come up with something really interesting for a monotonous boring humid afternoon. The unique idea that struck the mom that day, she had no clue that someday the little doting initiative of a mother to please her child would later on beget immense accolade for her.
Kamlaji’s full-fledged art odyssey began in her mid-40s after her kids got married. Mrs. Kabra started on making versatile paintings with oil, clay & broken colored glass pieces since the year 1984. 1984 was surely a landmark year in Kamlaji’s phase as a painter as that year she not only started on with her painting aspirations but also met “Shri Chandrakant Bhavsar“- who later on became the “Guru” or teacher for Mrs. Kabra. The famous Gujrati painter & artist was hugely impressed by the artistic exhibitions of Kamlaji & after a thorough examination advised her to dedicate herself into collage painting. After her children’s marriage, Kamlaji was a rather free woman, relieved from some of her previous time-consuming domestic duties and she made up her mind to commit her 100 percent towards painting & art.
For 5 years, from 1984 till 1989, Kamlaji was involved in exploring her artistic instincts through oil and clay, added to broken colored glasses. By the year 1989, she had already completed more than 20 paintings ready to be exhibited under limelight. A huge painting exhibition was held in 1989 where Kamlaji showcased 27 of her spectacular works that she developed over the last 5 years. The exhibition was hit by many honorary artists of India such as Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma, Ustad Zakir Hussain, Pt. V G Jog, Pt. Hari Prasad Chaurasia and many other eminent celebrities.
Kamlaji’s beautiful artistic displays were great revered by all the prestigious personalities at the exhibition and it was especially the broken glass works that received the maximum applause. Broken glass as an art form was practically unheard of at that time and brought a unique dimension to Kamlaji’s exhibition – the grand-scale appreciation received was a great boost for the lady to carry on with her picturesque artistic talents.
After such an immense appreciation in her first ever exhibition in the year 1989, Kamlaji took this decision to completely immerse herself in broken colored glass forms as her sole art medium. The distinct aura of broken glass painting that moved each of her guests at the exhibition inspired her to explore it at its best and to render a new meaning to the broken pieces that once she used to archive as just a mere hobby.
Kamlaji’s decision to devote herself in broken glass painting in 1989 was not only a phenomenal thing in her life or for that of her country but for the entire world as well. Nobody anywhere in the world could ever think of joining the broken glasses into paintings and Mrs. Kabra is the only artist in the universe who discovered artistic potential into some mere broken pieces. It was almost akin to a hidden puzzle which nobody noticed until one unique mind took it on herself one day to render a dramatic odyssey to it.
With utmost devotion to broken glasses as her sole painting medium, Kamlaji went on to come up with more and more broken glass art forms since 1989. The 10 years that rolled on were the most productive for Kamlaji the broken glass artist. Over a decade, she made around 25 broken glass paintings and those were displayed in full aplomb at a grand exhibition in the year 1999. The 1999 exhibition too was received with a warm response from all the guests present.
Kamlaji had her latest exhibition 3 years back in the year 2011. The exhibition displayed around 20 broken glass works from her collections which she started making since 1999. As always, the 2011 exhibition too attracted huge applaud and acknowledgement from all the guests invited.
As perfectionist as she is in everything she lays her hands upon, Kamlaji’s attention to perfection echoes in her paintings as well. Her admirers not only appreciate the uniqueness of her painting displays but also the precise attention by which they are brought to life from mere fragments. Being ardently passionate about her art, Kamlaji has always led a very spirited life, actively devoting herself to painting. At this of 75, the great septuagenarian artist shows no sign of stopping and is still on going strong with her experiments with broken glass artistry- with the same vigour & enthusiasm that pushed her to produce the exotic displays in her initial years as an artist.
Kamlaji is hailed as an inspiration across the entire artist community of the world who dares to try and give life to unique art forms. Not only that, she stands up tall as a great idol to every woman in India who is eager to pursue her passion and interests towards glory.
Mrs. Kabra’s unique taste in art and the very passion & creativity through which she infuses life into broken glasses have not only been championed by her guests at the nationally recognized grand exhibitions- but by the national media as well.
Almost every eminent media network from the country (including both print & telemedia) has covered her story and journey as the first & only broken glass painter of the world. Kamlaji and her artistic tryst with broken glasses have been featured on Times Of India, Hindustan Times, The Indian Express, Rajasthan Patrika, Doordarshan Documentary and many other prestigious media channels.