Studies of his own anatomy have become digital fragments on archival prints. But, the 1963 canvas is a far cry from his present-day personality. The self-portrait at the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA) has a lanky Rameshwar Broota. Student of Fine Art at Delhi College of Art, he stares at the mirror through the corner of his eyes. Now with brows thick, strands of white in his hair, he paints in oil.
Rameshwar Broota’s works describe the man who has withstood various challenges put forth by time. A selected collection of his works from 1963 till the present day is on exhibit at the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA).
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Veteran artist Rameshwar Broota explores the relationship between human beings and nature in his ongoing exhibition at Vadehra Art Gallery in Okhla Phase I here. The 69-year-old artist has tried to give every minute detail in his intricately textured pictures. Broota's metamorphosis into a photographer is bound to be another lesson in art history for artists who study under him at the Triveni Kala Sangam. He has been Head of the Department at Triveni since 1967.
Rameshwar Broota likes to work on large canvases. “I like the action,” says the 70-year-old artist, swinging an imaginary brush in the air. “When I scrape paint for the details, greater-than-lifesize gets more accuracy... When you magnify, so many things are added and subtracted.” This ‘addition and subtraction’ continues in his photography, too. In this case, his canvas is a 32-inch MacPro screen. Broota takes an image or a set of images at very high resolutions, and then spends night after night working with them on the Photoshop software — altering, superimposing, enhancing — to get the composition he wants. And he prints them at sizes of at least 40”x60” — monumental for photos.
Photography, it was said, would kill painting. But what happens when an artist starts painting photographs? Not with brush and colour but camera and MacBook Pro. For the last one year, Delhi artist Rameshwar Broota has traded the easel for pixels. “I stopped using the brush in the ’80s and turned to the blade,” he says. His technique of applying several coats of paint and then scratching out figures with a blade earned him the epithet of Blade Runner. But of late, he’s been burning the midnight oil in front of his 30-inch computer screen, turning photographs into images that are nothing like the ones he clicked.
In Rameshwar Broota’s office-cum-studio at Delhi’s Triveni Kala Sangam, a 32-inch MacPro glows softly in the morning light. It’s the machine on which the 70-year-old artist has produced his latest work — photographs taken over a period of five years, in vastly different places: from Greece to Turkey; from the barren wasteland of Spiti to the crowded streets of Haridwar. They are intricately detailed images, but blown up to a massive scale, and part of the exhibition “Open Enclosures” on at Shridharani Art Gallery in Delhi.
The moment you run out of wall space and yet continue to acquire, is the time to admit that obsession has become addiction. The purchase that marked this shift was Rameshwar Broota's triptych Traces of Man. It is an exceptional painting in terms of execution and universal vision. It is a black, brooding, abstract work created carefully and slowly by scraping away layers of paint with a razor blade. The first time we stood in front of this great work, we immediately knew we couldn't leave without it. The commitment of the artist to his vision had created one of his greatest works. Broota's passion and originality radiated from every inch.