Published in Roopa Lekha, VoL 55, 1984, p. 77-80
Rameshwar Broota’s main theme is ‘Man’-not an automation but a man of flesh and blood with all that is attributed to a Homosapien. Thus one has not only to analyse the psyche that prompted his creation but one has also to understand and probe, at the same time, the ‘Man’ which he projects on the canvas.
Broota is a quiet person, gentle and unassuming, but his work reveals that beneath this smooth surface there is a man of great vitality and daring-a dynamic personality full of wit and satire.
Initially, Broota started with Graphics and in this art-form one could discern his proclivities for delving deep into the mysteries of nature in relation to man. After continued experimentation Broota emerged as one of the front-ranking graphic artists of the day. But soon after he found this art-form time consuming and intricate. Mere artificing did not suit his talent. He wanted to achieve results in a flash and with spontaneity which was not possible in Graphics. So he had to change his style and divert to paintings. Here too, he had to shun the conventional form of using the brush. After sometimes he became averse to using many colours in his works. He, therefore, devised a novel method of reaching his desired objective through scratching the surface of the canvas with a sharp-edged blade. The technique involves a coating of silver-grey overlaid with a coat of jet black, bluish black or brownish black which he later erases to get the required form.
Broota’s latest paintings are the result of using this method which he finds easy and less time-consuming although on the face of it, it appears that it might have taken the artist more time and energy to get the desired result. This technique needs highly developed technical skill and a deft and dextrous hand. Broota must have worked very hard, indeed! To create depth and dimension, the artist occasionally makes use of spraying the required areas with the desired colour. The end result of this creative is Broota’s ‘creations’. Minus brush work and colour, they cannot by any means be described as paintings nor these can be named as graphics. In my view these can be placed somewhere between these two modes of expression.
Some critics have observed that these works verge on photographic treatment which I feel is totally unjustified and unfair, though photography itself has now assumed the importance of being one of the visual arts. I find it difficult to give Broota’s technique a name; one may have to coin one after deep thought? But whatever may be his novel technique, I feel that it is a kind of a psychological craving deepened in Broota’s personality to dig deep below the surface for finding value-a symbolic search into the aesthetics of a meaningful expression: Removing the dark patches to usher in light in silvery tones-a pure quest for the unknown.
Broota’s projections are as extraordinary and subtle as his technique and these lend themselves to so many interpretations. In the earlier stages, Broota interpreted his ‘Man’ as a Chimpanzee, a stylised form to convey the inner quirks of the artist’s mind. This series of paintings were more satire on society and conveyed in implicit terms that man had not yet come out of the primitive stage though he professed to have ushered in great scientific and technological development for the well-being and welfare of mankind. Development is true as far the material and physical progress of man is concerned. But what Broota has in mind was to focus attention on the raw emotional and mental processes of ‘man’ as this very technological development was proving dangerous for the existence of the whole human race on this earth. Even in his latest works, one finds the same chimpanzee contours of faces though somewhat modified to suit his subject matter. In the ‘Man’ series, Broota ever puts a mask over the face to reveal man’s double images.
His paintings in the series “Winners-Posthumous” may infer the futility of awarding a person, after his death, when it meant nothing to him-when he is no more. But at the same time, the series can convey the message of honouring those brave people who while pursuing some notable act for the good of others or following their own pet objective, lay down their lives; or it could be even for a noble cause. This may be even to express the sub-conscious feeling of the artist that it has been always the fate of the creative people to get recognition only when they are no more. During their life-time they are forced to lead their lives largely in oblivion. Whatever we may find in these works, the fact remains that these are compelling and evoke a strong impact on the onlookers and make them think seriously on the thematic content the artist wants to convey.
Likewise, Broota’s “confrontation” series are also pregnant with thought-provoking images. As the world stands today, every country is confronting the other in some hostility or even with evil designs. Individuals too are confronted with problems which defy solution. These works also convey what the artist himself is confronting; his own inner-self in search of solutions which seems beyond him. Well, there can be no end to such interpretations. These works can best be described as the expressions of a sensitive mind; which have gushed out from the deep recesses of his soul, giving them mysterious and esoteric meanings.
Born in 1941, Broota has emerged as one of the outstanding young painters of India. He won the National Award of the Lalit Kala Akademi consecutively in the year 1980 and 1981 followed by another National Award in 1984. He was also awarded earlier by the AIFACS in their All India Exhibitions in the year 1973 and 1975. He is a recipient of an award for his graphics by the Hyderabad Art Society in 1976. At present, Broota functions as Director of Art Department of Triveni Kala Sangam, New Delhi. His search for the unknown continues.
Published in Roopa Lekha, VoL 55, 1984, p. 77-80