Hong Kong-based artist Janet Pancho Gupta knew she had a gift when teachers at her primary school began paying attention for her sketches she drew. With the encouragement of her artistic family, she honed her natural talent and, growing up surrounded by poverty and hardship in her Philippine hometown of Mabinay, the young artist developed another edge to her work - an appreciation for nature's beauty and an intense perception in her portraits.
She became politically active after moving to Hong Kong in 2000 and groups such as the Mission for Filipino Migrant Workers began using her artwork as visual fuel in their activities.
She presented one of her works to Hong Kong's first chief executive, Tung Chee-hwa, as a "Christmas present" in 2002 to remind him of the hardship the government inflicted on foreign domestic helpers by introducing a levy.
The 32 year old is now married, a mother, but still devotes her precious time to further develop her work for her maiden art exhibition, entitled Faces and Colours of Life, at the Culture Club Gallery between Tuesday and March 1.
The exhibition showcases her versatility, taking art lovers through portraits, landscapes and florals that reveal a mastery of mediums, from graphites to watercolors, oils and pastels.
"I don't boast that I'm good or talented," she says. "When people compliment me it's not something I listen to, I suppose, because its something that has come so naturally it's just a part of me."
Her website www.artpancho.
com displays some of her favorite works, and feedback from wetcanvas.com, one of the biggest association of artists internationally of which she is a member, is constant.
Her graphite portraits have drawn the most attention. "The graphites are the most expressive, I think, because you're not distracted by colors, - you're drawn straight to the focus of the work," she says. "And they do take a lot of time, too, normally 50 hours or more for a single piece. When I draw people, I wonder about what's behind that person's eyes, and this gives me insights into their personality and helps me to interpret them for the painting."
It is that perception that elevates her art. She hopes others will be inspired by her work.