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Journey of an artist

S. HARPAL SINGH
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Profile Ravinder Sharma, winner of the Kalaratna award for 2010, talks about the link between artists and society. S. HARPAL SINGH

T he long and continuing stint in serving the cause of rural artisans and craftsmen makes Ravinder Sharma, founder of the famous Kala Ashram in Adilabad, a deserving candidate for the Kalaratna Award announced by the A.P. State Cultural Council, in the field of painting/sculptures for the year 2010. Guruji, as he is fondly called, has redefined aesthetics which helps in understanding the relationship between society and its artists, artisans and craftsmen on the one hand and the artisans and nature on the other.

Artist and environment

“While the modern artist considers the canvas to be his universe, those from the earlier times made a canvas of their surroundings. Their creations conformed with the existing lifestyle and surroundings as opposed to the present designing that tends to shape our lifestyles,” points out Ravinder Sharma.

The 57-year-old Ravinder Sharma began studying the complexities and cohesion in rural life at a young age. He moved in villages and habitations within a radius of 20 kilometres of Adilabad for over 20 years interacting with various segments of the society.

After earning diplomas in Fine Arts from JNTU, Hyderabad and MSU in Baroda, Ravinder Sharma established the Kala Ashram or shelter for art in 1985. Meant to rehabilitate old artists who had fallen on bad times, the ashram has become an informal centre for knowledge on the subject.

Ravinder Sharma shares his experiences and the philosophy on relevance of artisans and craftsmen in society and on issues linked with their survival. His audiences comprise the local potter or carpenter and the elite faculty and students of IITs as well.

Rural artisans need enough space to exercise their creativity, believes the artist-philosopher. “They should be able to create articles that are useful and not just those that are needed in a given household,” he opines.

According to Ravinder Sharma, there is much for an artisan that survives even now. For example, there is a good market for articles made of bamboo or jute which needs to be tapped in the right manner, he says.

“The artisan should enjoy enough latitude for new designs to emerge. It is the variety in design that makes life so colourful,” observes Ravinder Sharma.

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