Bhargava was born in Shimla in 1938. In 1947, her parents with the family moved to
Calcutta. Ever since, the changing faces of this crazy, chaotic city left its impress on
her. Bhargava did her art studies at the Government College of Arts & Crafts in
Calcutta and finished in 1962. In between for two years, she studied at the Art Students
League in 1960 to 1961. After obtaining her degree, Bhargava could not practice art
seriously for several years because of the demands of a growing family. When her children
were old enough, she went back to painting in the late '60s. From 1970 onwards, Bhargava
has been showing regularly.
Working primarily with oils and acrylics, Bhargava, nevertheless, has
experimented with many mediums. Her work with encaustic was one of her first experiments
with textures. In the '80s, Bhargava created two assemblages with junk wood and scrap iron
found from building demolitions. One of these assemblages was the result of a workshop
with Piloo Pockhanawalla. In 1983, Bhargava did a course in photography at Chitrabani,
Calcutta. The photographic image has always fascinated Bhargava and, of late, she has been
juxtaposing silk screen images with her paintings.
Bhargava's work has been predominantly figurative although, in the early
years, she had done some semi-abstract lithoid forms. The decaying city has always figured
prominently in her works. Architectural elements and other symbols or urban anomie like a
crowded bus, an open manhole, graffiti and posters, surface in her works again and again.
The other important feature of her figuration is the iconography of a woman. Sometimes she
is Kali, at other times she is a bound, distorted body or a street performer juggling with
the roles in her life. Of late, Bhargava has been experimenting with the surface of the
painting adding three-dimensional objects or silk-screen images. She is also introducing
elements of myth and fantasy to her strongly expressionistic style of painting.
The Chowringee Crossing
Oil on canvas
102" x 69"
Deva Dwar Series I
Oil and Encaustic on Canvas
80" x 50"