gmhTODAY 24 gmhTODAY Feb March 2019 - Page 65

M ost artists strive to evolve and grow in artistic expression as their art matures over the years. Morgan Hill abstract oil painter Sanjay Batra’s artistic expression naturally evolves as he accommodates his ongoing loss of vision due to myopic degeneration. A condition caused by extreme near-sightedness, this regressive malady forces him to relearn techniques and reimagine the world around him as his vision changes year to year. “I choose to call it myopic inspiration,” Batra said, as he deftly prepared coffee in his kitchen. “I always say, ‘that period was back then,’ right? Now I’m moving on to a new period. Not better or worse, just new. I don’t really have a choice.” Beginning as nearsightedness, Batra experienced gradual vision loss, worsening in graduate school in his late twenties. He describes how he now sees as “viewing an impressionistic painting that shakes violently.” Though it isn’t expected that he will completely lose his vision, it is unknown how it will change in the future. Batra was five years old when his family moved from New Delhi to Lincoln, Nebraska in 1967. Not allowed to have action figures as a child, he began drawing comic book art and has drawn ever since. In 1998, he earned his PhD in engineering from the University of Nebraska and went on to work for Motorola Mobility in Chicago. He said working with designers inspired him to take night drawing classes at the School of Art Institute. In 2002, he transitioned to painting when his instructor told him he “draws like a painter.” In 2005, Batra met Kulvinder Arora on a South Asian dating site. Also born in New Delhi, Arora was living in New Jersey where she had lived since her family migrated to American in 1975. They were married in 2006 and adopted GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN a daughter, Anjali, in 2013. In 2016, they moved to Morgan Hill when Batra accepted a job as the head hard- ware researcher with Google where he leads a team of design engineers. He lauds Google for its policy of acceptance and inclusion for people with disabilities, not viewing a person’s limitations as a disability, rather embracing them as simply different. A YouTube video, titled “Myopic Inspiration,” was produced for National Disability Week at Google featuring Batra in the process of painting and describing him as a “differently-abled artist”. The video can be viewed online by searching “Sanjay Batra’s Myopic Inspiration.” Painting outside in his back yard for maximum lighting, Batra literally gets his hands in the paint and says he applies his oils with squeegee, pallet knife and, at times, kitchen utensils. He freely applies layer upon layer in thick colorful strokes, capturing a multi-dimensional depth. His shadowy self-portraits eerily appear amidst a fore- ground of bright and colorful shapes and forms. One can see similarities to one of his favorite artists, prolific Dresden-born artist Gerhard Richter, known for painting abstract art over actual photographs. It is with great anticipation we wait to see what the unknown journey of this gifted artist has in store for us. february/march 2019 65