Artist of the month: Raghu Neware

Raghu Neware

Meet Raghu Neware, Kokuyo Camlin's Artist of the Month.

 1. What is the best thing about being an artist?
Artists are the most sincere people and loving nature is the only philosophy in an artist’s life.

2. When did you decide to come into the art world? Who has inspired you for the same?
The process unknowingly initiated. While walking to school, I used to observe the hand painted hoardings of cinemas and while at school I used to sketch and even paint the poets that were printed above the poems in the books. When I was in my 7th standard, I saw three shows of the movie ‘Kaagaz Ke Phool’ by Guru Dutt, back to back. I loved the movie so much; it showed me art even though I didn’t even know the word ‘Art’ at that time. I acted in some plays, but that made me realise that even the Director answers to the Producer. I wanted to do something where only I existed and that search made me become a painter; an artist - where only the painter exists with his paintings. Guru Dutt was my inspiration.

3. Tell us something about your art education and early career
I pursued B.F.A and M.F.A from Nagpur University. I was the last candidate to be enrolled. Once, while looking at my paintings, my teacher Kashinath Salve asked me, “Do you know Van Gogh?” He asked me to look for his works in the library and later asked me “What did you see?”
I replied, "He paints like me." Coming from a family of photographers, I understood that turning the negative to positive will help me master the graphics. Then I used to paint only figurative.

4. Which is your favourite medium?
Oil on canvas.

5. What inspires you?
Nature.

6. Which was the highest point in your artistic career?
I haven’t had one that I would call a highest point so far at least.

7. How do you manage to work across a variety of mediums?
I’ve also worked in water colour, poster colours and acrylic colours. My photographical knowledge of painting negative photographs to colour made me understand all the tints, tones and layers of colours. This helped me master the medium acrylic on canvas. I was complimented at my show at Jehangir in Mumbai by Prabhakar Barve sir and Hebbar sir. For my work with Acrylic, I had to work keeping the work horizontally on a table or stand but I had to shift to a medium which could be painted vertically on an easel due to a back problem.

8. Can you give us some examples of the messages you have tried to convey through your paintings?
While in my college days, I had an order to photograph all the workers at the coal mine for their ID cards. I completed the consignment, but the workers and their living environment didn't let me sleep. I painted a series on them; their faces had no colour then black. They were covered with coal dust from head to toe, I used 'Tar' (the material used for roads) as a medium, and painted one tone figurative paintings. I felt the weights that they carried were for a lifetime.
Later after few years, while at a tea stall with an officer for a photography consignment. A kid there served us two cups of tea, and a drop of which spilled on the officer and in return, the officer slapped him. This incident made a deep impact on me, and I painted a series on child labour.

9. Your works are generally abstract? Do you paint in some other genre also?
Yes, there’s an interesting story to this too. One day while reading newspaper this thought struck me, why are these people walking so many miles? What is it that is making them do so? This question made me search for the answer, and I went for the Pandharpur Ekadashi Vari where lacs of people walk miles and miles to take blessings from Lord Vitthal. After walking with them for a mile I realised, I couldn't observe them completely. So I went 4 stops ahead and came reverse, I observed them, their expressions, feelings, love, faith sketched all these, photographed them. Suddenly it started raining, and I saw a lady with a flower in her hair was buying something inclining her body downwards, and a goat came and ate those flowers by keeping her 2 legs on the lady’s back. After this I just packed up and got back. Upon my return, I stayed at a friend’s goat farm for two months. I used to bath the goats, name them, feed them and loved them. While returning, those goats ran behind us for nearly 2 kms. Back home in Nagpur, my wife kept her head in my lap. This feeling (sparsh) and the sparsh by goats, would I be able to paint feelings? Can they be painted? I worked on this for years. And painted a series on this, and found the answer. Yes, I could paint them.

10. Who is your favourite artist? Indian & International
Gaitonde and Pablo Picasso

11. If you were not an artist, what would you be?
Architect or director.

12. Who is your current favourite out of the young artists?
Ravi Mandlik (Mumbai ka badshaah) and Tuka Jadhav

13. What would you like to say to the young artists? Especially to the ones who could not study art in the organized manner but yet want to pursue art seriously.
While education is extremely important, art isn’t any saint’s ashes (bhabhuti); it’s an act of love and sincerity to go deeper.

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