Creating a language of shape and colour
By Dr Alice Correia
Throughout her career, Bhajan Hunjan has investigated the relation between abstract and representational forms, using a variety of materials and artistic mediums. Although trained as a painter and printmaker, she has also worked in ceramics, metalwork, and stone. Her work incorporates an expressive use of colour, and in union with her use of line, shape, and symbol, reflects particular moods, emotions and sensibilities in non-narrative ways.
Bhajan Hunjan was born in Nanyuki, Kenya, in 1956 and moved to Britain to study Fine Art at Reading University in 1975. On completing her degree, she undertook a postgraduate course in the department of Printmaking at the Slade School of Art, while also undertaking part-time studies in Ceramics at the Central School of Art and Design (1979-81). Discussing her decision to study art, in 1983 Hunjan observed, “ I went to art school to be educated, and once I was there I began to find out more about myself, about where I came from and to question myself through my work”.
During her studies Hunjan came across the writings of psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961), and her growing self-reflection on broad questions about identity and belonging evolved in tandem with an interest in the subconscious, dreams and the meanings of symbols. In 1981 she exhibited a selection of recent paintings, prints and ceramics in the exhibition, Four Indian Women Artists at the Indian Artists (UK) Gallery. These works, with titles such as, Male and Female (1979), The Embrace (1979), Intimacy (1980), and Maze of Life (1981), utilised natural forms such as seed pods, eggs, flora and fauna, twigs and branches, alongside abstracted organic shapes and lines. Collectively they addressed themes of regeneration and decay, the possibility of universal ideals or experiences, while also gesturing to questions of how one might find a place for oneself in such a vast and unknowable world.