Usha Shukla was born and brought up in New Delhi, India. From early childhood, she was fascinated by the outdoors. The vibrant colors of the Indian countryside left a strong impression on her. After a graduate degree in English Literature, she went on to get a diploma in Fashion Design. In 1996 when she moved to San Francisco, California, with her family, she found everything different except her interaction with nature. In 2005, after a visit to the Louvre Museum in Paris, she realized her true passion for art. She enrolled in the local community college and started her formal art education. She completed her graduate program at the Academy of Art University, San Francisco, focusing on painting.
Combining her love of nature and passion for art, she paints large abstract paintings in vibrant colors. She has a unique process of mark-making. Instead of conventional tools like brushes and palette knives, she moves the paint on wood panels using an air blower.
Her work is collected by several local art collectors. She won the 2016-17 Clyde & Co Art Award for Emerging Artists, San Francisco. She has participated in several juried group and solo shows on the West Coast and has won awards. She has a public art mural in the city of Livermore, California. Her six paintings are installed in the East County Hall of Justice, Dublin, CA, commissioned by the Alameda County Arts Commission. Five of her works are in the permanent collection at the Sutter Hospital in San Francisco and one in Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston. She recently exhibited her work at Spectrum, Miami during the Miami Art Basel Week. She received the 2020 Alameda County Arts Leadership Award.
I create abstract paintings that distill the light, the intense colors, and the constant movement in nature. The final visual is pure, ethereal, and cosmic with no physical references.
When I was a young girl, I enjoyed walks along the Indian countryside, taking in the beauties nature had to offer. Twenty years ago I moved to California, a place so much different from my native land.
I felt out of place and disoriented. That is when I took sanctuary in nature. Today, when outdoors, I once more feel the same breath of fresh air that I felt in my childhood and my past and present become one. My paintings are the representation of a harmonious balance of my subconscious landscape and the physical world.
With a thought-out color palette and my unique process, I start on a journey of creation. When painting, I immerse myself into the process, get into a meditative trance, and let the painting guide me. It is always a balance of letting go and being in control. My head, heart, and hand become one and something pure and personal happens. Vapor-like shapes appear and disappear on the panel, leaving only traces of the initial layer, like the mere reverberation of a memory.