Photo credit: Simply Punjabi, India Today
This article was originally published in India Today.
Certain stillness engulfs his works. One is forced to look at beyond technique for they reflect upon diverse situations that degenerate relationships between humans.
Rameshwar Broota feels it is important that an artist does not behave like an automated machine but creates only when he is inspired to.
What is interesting about Rameshwar Broota’s art is the fact that it undergoes multiple transformations almost every decade. Take for example his early works in which he lays bare the streets of Delhi and showcases labourers in their undernourished and stark avatars as poverty runs amok. “I faced a lot of struggle in my initial years, something which had to reflect in my creations of that time,” says this Delhi-based 74-year-old artist who was in Chandigarh in September on the invitation of Chandigarh Lalit Kala Akademi.
However, one day, it occurred to him that he had nothing new to say with paint, a tough and disturbing phase as he couldn’t imagine staying away from the canvas. After being convinced that the subjects he was working on had outlived their lives, new images started coming to him. “That is when the Ape Series emerged in my mindscape,” he says. A look at the canvasses of that series and one notices the humanised animals that symbolise the animal instinct of man and the corrupt bureaucracy. Then came the Man Series in which he started painting the canvas, rubbed it clean, began to clean the wet paint and images started to appear. As the paint began to dry, he used a knife to scrape the paint and carving images, and later using blades to scrape layers of paints.
A graduate from College of Art, New Delhi (1964), Broota, who developed an interest in drawing and colours early in childhood after taking inspiration from his two elder brothers and would even miss his school assignments to concentrate on drawing, says, “Frankly, my brothers were so good that they should have been artists, instead. I am the one who has spent all his life amidst paints and canvasses.” The artist, in fact, wanted to join the army or the police, even after taking admission in the art college.
Despite being a name to be reckoned with in the art circuit for the past five decades, Broota does not paint more than four big works in a year. For him, it is important that that an artist does not behave like an automated machine but creates only when he is inspired to. “It is paramount that there is no compromise on aesthetics and honesty,” he says. For the past five years, Broota has donned the role of a photographer too. He says that crossing the limits of the camera makes photography more creative and challenging. Stressing that content should be omnipresent in both, though each medium’s challenges and strengths are different, he adds, “Both are complete in themselves and I enjoy working in both mediums.”