Art of Bairu Raghuram

Black and white images-Colours of Life

Black and white pencil drawings are no less meaningful than painting images. Bairu Raghuram’s drawings make us to realize the same. His black and white etching prints are also equally beautiful. It is difficult to decide whether his drawings or black and white and sepia tone prints, which ones are more beautiful. He lives in Hyderabad, born in 1949, a conversation with him-

Your art works obviously informs the viewer that you are working on Telangana rural life.

I was born and brought up and has been living in Hyderabad. I know only this life style.

Life style of Hyderabad is a metro life. It is not the life what you depict.

Life of Hyderabad and surroundings were different in my childhood. It was more of a rural life. I was also travelling to Warangal, Siddipet, Karimnagar for sketching. Poverty had a similar way of life in all these places, faded walls, chipped of lime plasters. I did few thousands of sketches in those days. Those memories do visit my canvases even today.

People represented in your images are in poverty but not desperate, sharing conversations, calm and quiet, spending time with animals also. All the images have one common feature that every figure has very pale and big eyes.

Picture looks beautiful and innocent with big and pale eyes. At the same time if artist wants to say about their innocence and ignorance, one has to choose some features like conversing with cattle, sheep and cocks.  Picture should look good for me as well as for the viewers.

Your drawings look very real like images.

When I was studying in Gulbarga for Diploma our principal Mr.Andani encouraged us very much, made us to learn, hands, feet and figure drawings from medical anatomy book. I practiced regularly even after the studies. When I wanted to exhibit my art works in Maxmuller Bhavan of Hyderabad, I was asked to bring a recommendation letter from a well known and senior artist and kept me out. I decided to become a good artist on my own and practiced a lot. I started observing many masters works. I was inspired by the works of Albert Durer, print maker and Leonardo Da Vinci.

Was it difficult for you to become a part of the Hyderabad art scenario to begin with?

It is very difficult to stand as an artist independently here. It is always observed, which artist belongs to which senior artists’ group? After experiencing all these issues, I wanted to travel on my own path. Mr. Chandrasekhar, a senior artist was working in Lalitkala Akademy in Hyderabad. He liked my print images and encouraged me a lot. He gave me a chance in all India print making workshops and art camps.

When did you start working in printmaking medium?

I studied graduation in Nizam’s college. I did not know much about Fine Arts courses. I was very happy when teachers used to appreciate me in my school days for my drawings and paintings. I received a second prize in inter school drawing competition when I was in 9th standard. I was more than happy to receive my prize from the hands of District collector. My parents were unhappy because I was not good at studies. Later I completed my lower and higher examinations in Drawing and studied diploma in Gulbarga Fine Arts School.

I started working in censes department as an artist. I have been practicing my art independent of my job. Lalitkala academy started Graphic studios in 1982 in Hyderabad. I became a member in those studios. I had a difficulty to begin with but later not only practiced the technique, I realized printmaking suits my way of expression.

Do you find any difference in drawing and making print images? Both of your images look similar.

It is difficult to bring so many sensitive lines in print making as it is in drawing. Print making process is elaborate. But whether it is print or drawing, I keep space in my focus, what element and figure should be in the front, back or at the side. I take all the care to think and compose.

Congratulations for all your efforts.

I wanted to gain name by doing my work sincerely. I thought my work is the answer for everyone. I was invited for a residency at Japan and participated in a group show also there in 2017, similarly participated in a group show at London in 2015, as well in America and Bangladesh. I participated in Bhopal Biennale in 1995. Lalitkala Akademy published a book on print making since 1850 in India. My work is part of that book. I received a national award in 1997 and a gold medal of Hyderabad Art society in 96. I was awarded ‘Kalaratna’ a ‘Pratibha Puraskkaram’ of Telugu University.

My grandfather worked in Nizam’s Police department. My father worked as a molder in Railways. I used to feel happy seeing him molding 3 dimensional and fine moulds. I am very happy standing as an artist on this same land of Hyderabad. 

Bairu Raghuram was interviewed by Dr.M.Balamani.

[This article in Telugu is published in ‘Sopathi, Navatelangana’ on 23rd June 2019.]

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