Experiences Moulded-Chinthala Jagadish
“ Life is also like a Marathon. If someone gets a first prize for their run, it does not mean others have to leave the race in between. If we continue to work hard, we too will reach the goal one day. One need not feel intimidated if reaches later”, Says international fame artist Chinthala Jagadish who lives in Hyderabad. He was born in old city of Hyderabad in 1956, did his schooling in Kalvakurthy because of his father’s employment there. He started painting when he held the slate and chalk in his childhood. He creates art works with a difference, colourful, taking the inspiration and ideas reflecting from his life and surroundings.
My conversation with him-
When did you get the idea of studying in Fine arts?
I was not able to score more than passing marks when I was in school right from the beginning. My Science teacher Mr.Ramakrishna Reddy, after looking into my science drawings advised me to join Fine Arts and he explained in detail how to reach JNTU college of Fine Arts in Hyderabad. I went to see that college once. I saw the students sitting in a row and making drawings and paintings. I was very impressed. I decided that day that if I study I am going to study there alone.
How did you get the marks in JNTU Fine Arts College?
I got first class and stood 2nd in my class in 1st year. I did not believe when my friend informed me. Everyone encouraged me that I should achieve 1st rank in my next examination.
What was the financial situation of your parents? Expenses of your college study….
If I want to study my family is such that they even mortgage their ear rings. When I was in 3rd year I took my drawings to a calendar shop in Hyderabad to inquire if they can print my drawings for their calendars. Shop owner explained me that they are printed in Sivakashi of Tamilnadu and also explained me what kind of drawings are preferred for calendars. I travelled to Sivakashi taking my drawings. I met a senior lady in the train. She fed me tamarind rice and cared for me like her own grandson. I never forget her affection.
I moved around many printing shops there. Finally one printing press owner accepted my drawings and offered me Rs.500/-. I was so excited. I gave that money to my mother as it is my first earning. She gave me back later. That printing press wrote a letter again to me asking for more drawings. That was the beginning of my earning.
Have you seen your calendars printed?
Who were taking so much care to send the calendars in those days? They would forget after printing. But my friend saw the calendars printed with my drawings in Adilabad and he informed me.
Your Paper Masche masks are different and very attractive.
Hyderabad Doordarshan Kendra asked me to make masks for their children’s program in those days. Today if I need a gold colour I can get one made in Geramny and sold in America. But I used to search for cheaper materials in those days. Then I made many glove puppets with Paper Masche. Now I gained so much experience in paper I can work anything different in the paper as no other artist can imagine.
Is there any difference in your work from the days of your graduation and in today’s work?
A lot…When I came out of graduate college in 1978 from JNTU Hyderabad I was doing lot of realistic paintings. There was a change in my work when I passed my post Diploma from Baroda Fine Arts College in 1980 itself. Today I gained experience and that further refined my work. I can say there is lot of difference in my work from that day to today.
Any specific memories of studying at Baroda Fine Arts College….
Many…K.G.Subhramanyan, an eminent artist was a teacher there. He conducted my interview for the admission there. I did not know anything about him by that time. He said” You, Hyderabad people do not have any understanding about art. Your teachers asks you to do copy work and do not teach you good art. You have good skill. I will not give you regular admission. You can come here simply as a non Collegiate to learn.” I was angry listening to him. I refused and about to leave. He called me back and gave me admission in Printmaking Dept. Teacher over there asked me to do only sketches and drawings nothing else for a month. After seeing those drawings K.G.Subhramanyan gave me admission in Mural Dept. I always had the courage to openly express if I do not approve anything. I told him when he was still pulling my leg “ I saw your M.A students work. I do not find them any great.”
When I was leaving after my studies there I told him openly “ You have not taught me anything different about art for the last 2 years.” Next day he called me and explained me many things about traditional, Modern arts, techniques and materials and concepts. He advised me to explore my roots and make that as my way for the art. That has driven me a new fruitful way.
Colours in your work are very impressive.
My experiences reflect in my art works. When I was a child I used to play in my mother’s lap, I saw my mother’s bangles were falling zigzag. My mother used to wear turmeric and KumKum on her forehead. All those memories come to fall a composition in my work.
Your works are with national and international collectors. Which collector had given you more encouragement?
When I was working in America on a fellowship my work was displayed in Chicago art expo. One art dealer had seen my work and included my sculpture in his gallery exhibition. He gave me a studio also to work there in 1991. He gave me support to begin with. When his gallery was on a run out my works were supporting him and he told me that once jokingly.
[This is a translation of my original article published in Sopathi Sunday magazine, Navatelangana Telugu Magazine on 27th January 2019]