As far back as he can remember, visual artist Rameshwar Broota had longed to be a policeman. But he failed to clear the physical examination when he attempted to join the force.
Remembering his frustration, he recalls: “I was always excellent at art and had won a number of scholarships and awards for it over the years. But being an artist was not my ambition. It’s only now, many years later, that I realise I was blessed by nature — creativity and beauty was my forte. The rejection from the police force was a blessing in disguise.”
What was a loss for the police proved to be a tremendous gain for the Indian art fraternity, as it inherited a veritable master truly deserving of the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ at this year’s HELLO! India Art Awards.
Both in his physical being and through his enigmatic works, Broota’s silent personality shines through, even while leaving a strong impression on the viewer. Over a practice that spans decades, he’s received numerous awards and accolades and has had a number of noteworthy exhibitions both in India and abroad.
As an artist, he’s best known for his poignant paintings on socio-politically charged subjects as well as for creating the technique of scratching through several layers of paint with a blade. These have made him a force to reckon with in the artscape for decades. His hard-hitting commentary on current social issues, coupled with his artistic focus on humanism and the simplicity of life as it’s lived by members of the vast Indian middle class, are signature elements of his work. And though his themes change frequently, these characteristics remain throughout.
“It feels great to receive this recognition. I’m really happy that HELLO! magazine has given me this award. Recognition of one’s work is always welcome, but it’s even more special when it’s this unexpected and comes from an institution I’m not involved with,” he smiles.
Broota believes that artistic talent is inborn and honed through childhood and adult life. Artists observe things and then bring their thoughts to life as works of art. When asked about his source of inspiration for his multifarious practice, he says with honesty that it comes from all the goodness around him. Be it the films and TV shows he watches, the people he meets or the architecture he admires.
“Whenever I see something beautiful, I feel like being creative. My surroundings inspire me to do something great. That work then becomes my artistic and creative contribution to the world.”
Sharing a word of encouragement for young and upcoming artists, the veteran artist says: “Everyone should work hard and be innovative. Never follow the demands of gallery owners blindly. Your struggle is real and important, but don’t get stuck in the cycle of constantly trying to achieve more. You must remember that your artistic practice is not a shop; you’re not selling to meet a demand. Follow your own path, your own voice and your own instinct.”
This has been adapted for the web from a story originally published in the March 2023 issue of HELLO! India. Get our copy of the latest issue right here!