Brootas brush with photography

Written by Garima Pant | Updated: Feb 13 2011, 05:42am hrs
His name doesnt feature in the art glitterati, nor does he find mention in the regular art critiques and conversations. You wont find much written about me. This anonymity suits me. I take my own time to work, says 69-year-old veteran artist Rameshwar Broota. His show, Open Enclosures is on in New Delhi, showcasing 20 of his monumental photographs.

Its his eye for detail that makes his work engrossing. Be it the layers of chiselled rock visible in the image titled Shifting Sand, captured by Broota en route to Spiti, or the panoramic image named Where does the Ganga flow, capturing the vastness of Haridwar, his love for microscopic details is hard to miss.

Roobina Karode, director, Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, finds both his paintings and photography at par with each other, extracted with laborious techniques. Even though his works look simple, they are not spontaneous. A lot of thought, commitment and engagement with nuances is present in each of his works. He has a very distinct way of looking at reality and he mediates between notions of visibility and visuality, say Karode.

Brootas experiments in photography, spanning over years, have made him a master of juxtaposing and blowing up images, albeit under the rules of photography. I rarely add objects to an image on my own. I just play with space. For this Haridwar image, I have taken two-three images and overlapped them to give it a dense look, says Broota. The works on display have been clicked and worked upon over a span of last one year and a half with each image taking days or even months to come to its present form. His works have a lot of depth and are done with a lot of patience. He is an artist who has never been in a hurry and that reflects in his works, says Ajay Seth, chairman, Copal Art, an art advisory and placement firm.

Broota confesses of being a perfectionist and a person who will not compromise on detail. On an average in a year, I make three normal size (more than 5 ft) works. Artworks bigger than that (up to 7 ft), probably just one in a year. I dont intend to make every work a masterpiece, but it should be a decent work. I take my own time and that's probably why I have made just 300 works (including drawings, etchings and paintings) in my entire career spanning four decades, says Broota. And such a few number of works have made him a collectors choice. And as Seth points out, no collector wants to sell his works.

Though Broota has not been into auctions for some time, he was the costliest artist (in his age bracket) two years back, adds Seth.

A multifaceted artist known for his strong masculine forms in paintings, Broota first exhibited his digital photographs in 2007, though his brush with photography goes back to his childhood days when he began clicking with a box camera. He even had his own darkroom to get the results and the perfection he was seeking in his work.

My current works are more earthly and raw than my previous exhibition. I have played a lot more with open spaces with fewer objects and maximum attention on bringing out the finest details, says Broota. Armed with his Canon EOS Mark III, and Canon 5D mark II, Broota is extremely choosy about his work. Known to spend laborious hours over each image, he even destroys work if the perfection is not achieved. And that is something he has been imparting to his students as being the head of the Department of Art, Triveni Kala Sangam since 1967.

For the master, art education has changed. And the perception of people about art has changed. Art never used to sell before. Aspiring artists had to work part time to support themselves, says Broota. The master of finesse is known to have changed three buses to go to Jamia Millia University where he taught fine arts for some time. It was after he was offered a job at Triveni Kala Sangam that his works took a new shape. I was free to work the way I wanted. It helped me become what I am today, he says.

The artist is all set to go up in the valuations, predicts Seth. Now he has garnered a global name and with a select few works, we expect his price to double up in the next couple of years, says Seth. Karode too, finds Brootas work in demand. He is regarded as an amazing artist at the global platform, who is away from the rat race and doesnt use shortcuts in his works.

Brootas current works are priced at Rs 3 - 6 lakh. The show is on at the Shridharani Gallery till February 21 and will then move to Vadehra Art Gallery in the capital from March 6 till March 31.