Master printer-Devraj Dakoji

There is a meaning for every object and all the beings of this Universe have equal value. Devraj Dakoji thinks on these lines and walks his journey of art. He was born in 1944 in Dharmojigudem near Hyderabad. He was graduated in 1965 from College of Fine Arts from JNTU in Hyderabad. Later he received a scholarship from Lalitkala Akademi and joined Faculty of Fine Arts Baroda for a specialization in Print making medium for his Master’ Degree. For the last 3 decades he is working in Robert Black Burn Print Making Institute at New York as a master printer. He teaches print making, educates younger generation and organizes display of exhibitions. He imparts knowledge and information on finer methods of Lithography technique of print making.

Devaraj spent his childhood in his home town itself and shifted to Hyderabad later because his father’s profession. His father and grandfather were practicing Ayurvedic professionals. He feels happy to talk about his memories of his mother. As far as his schooling is concerned, he was week in Mathematics and English and had an extra tuition classes with a special teacher. He used to draw and sketch in the leisure time in between those classes. His teacher used to observe his interest and made a query ‘whether he wants to become an artist’. His habit of drawing and sketching had also grown along with him in the days to come. He made sure his father agrees to pursue his interest further and joined Fine Arts College in Hyderabad.

Devraj went to help his younger brother when he was ill in Kashmir. He drew lot of drawings and images of beautiful Kashmir Landscape and locations and exhibited those images in 1965 at Hyderabad. Then Minister Sri.P.V.Narasimha Rao came to inaugurate the exhibition and enjoyed recognizing all those locations of Kashmir. Such style of realistic forms and compositions of Devraj has changed later to abstract and semi abstract forms. Hyderabad was full of small mounts and hills in those days. He used to feel while looking at those rocks, they appear as if people are sitting and chatting with each other in the nights. Later urbanization has started cutting down all those hills and those rocks started vanishing. Banjara Hills is one such example that was the place where Banjaras used to live earlier. Not only hills, he also relates himself with birds and other elements of nature as his friends. For him those are not objects alone. There is a give and take and worldly relation between all the fundamentals of nature. He supports Buddhist thought and thinks that every aspect of nature and living beings of this creation has some sort of a connected fondness with each other. Every object of this universe both living and non living elements are equally respectable. Each and every aspect of this world has an equal right. All those thoughts started appearing in his compositions. His later compositions are framed with many of such thoughts. Deveraj’ images may look like children’ drawings but they make us to recollect a well known artist of the west, Pual Klee. He would catch the meanings of the creation, the meanings of forms of materiality, unseen meanings of that supreme world and tries to catch those gist on the canvas and his lines of drawings.

Not only Devraj is involved in deep thinking, he also has the quality of consistent and constant working. He being a master printer of a studio he has to meet the artists to discuss for making the prints of their works. He was travelling for the same between Manhattan and Babylon for 8 years. At that time he used to sketch and draw on his train ticket itself. He safely preserved all those and made an exhibition of selected 100 drawings out of those travelling tickets in December 2015 and January 2016. His yet another exhibition’ title is ‘Wheel of life’. The energies of human life are supported by a Nature’ energy cycle. If this nature is the representative of that creation and that supreme energy, our life moves as another wheel with the support of that representative. Nature stands as a message giver, a supporting energy of our lives and it directs our path. Wheel of Life compositions are based on such thoughts.

Well known artist M.F.Hussain also given the responsibility to Devraj to make the editions of his images. There are many techniques and conditions involved in the medium of print making. What Devraj says is artists of creative sensibilities do not see those techniques as hurdles. They work to cross those boundaries to create meaningful print images. When M.F.Hussain wanted colours in his prints, Devraj got his colour prints done in Chine -Colle method and helped him.

Devraj along with his wife Pratibha started Atelier-2221 print making studios in Delhi. That was the first studio in India in those days, if artists wanted to take the print editions of their art works. But he could not run it for long time because there was no market for print making images on those days and many artists left that medium. He shifted to USA at that time leaving that print making machine for Garhi studios, Lalitkala Akademi, Delhi.

He studied in Chelsia Fine Arts institute on British Council scholarship. He travelled extensively in Europe in 76-77. He was appointed as Commissioner and the jury of international print biennale Bhopal in 1991. He worked as a supervisor and program officer in Garhi studios of Lalitkala Akademi in Delhi. He received gold medal in 1975 and a national award in 1983. He was nominated for John Michel institute. He has gained fame and name and exhibited at both national and international exhibitions and he works on canvases and in water colours also.          


11th February 2020

[This is the translation of My Telugu article published in Sopathi Sunday magazine Navatelangana news Paper on 2nd February 2020]

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