The Past Lives In The Present Says Artist Verma
By SUKANT DEEPAK
NEW DELHI, (IANS) – As a school-going boy, Ram Pratap Verma would always stop to watch men making natural dyes and pigments in one of the bylanes of Bhiwani, Haryana. He found the process fascinating and this continued for several months until one of them invited him to join them.
“Well, for several days I was asked to get tea and do odd jobs — I guess they were testing me. Thank God I passed. It was here that I learned everything,” smiles artist Ram Pratap Verma.
Fast forward to the present: Verma’s apartment is adorned with paintings, stacks of drawings, sculptures, and awards. Antiques collected over the years are displayed on the balcony, and there is another room full of paintings.
The Panchkula-based Verma is currently busy adding the final touches to 25 works in natural pigments and acrylics that will be exhibited during his solo show ‘Past in Present Tense’ at the Nehru Centre in London in July. “In so many ways, the past lives in the present and gives direction to the future. Through multiple metaphors, I want to narrate my own past which is in sync with my present.”
The works to be exhibited have been inspired by the wall paintings in Havelis. In fact, Verma also wrote the book ‘Wall Paintings: The Vanishing Treasure’ and created a film with the same title, which was released last year. The movie will be released in the UK on July 5.
As an arts graduate, Verma documented the remarkable paintings executed since the 18th century, which were largely based on mythological themes. After spending several months researching the artwork, artists, their styles, the colors they used, and how the prevailing situations at that time influenced the artists’ works, Verma states that multiple time periods and diverse styles came together to create those wall paintings.
He has already started working on his second film, which will document the temple art of Madhya Pradesh. “I have completed the still photography part and will be hiring a film crew from Mumbai, just as I did for the first one. For me, it is extremely important to work with professionals and not compromise on quality,” he said.
Investing his own money in the films, Verma mentioned that one can either make art or get trapped in the bureaucratic red tape of procuring funds. “I did try approaching government agencies, but the whole process is so tedious. I may not be from a rich family, but I understand that making art is all about giving.”
For Verma, it was important to start major work after his wife passed away. “My poet friend Nirupama Dutt would call me often and urge me to start a project that would keep me occupied. It made complete sense to go back to Fresco paintings, which were a part of my upbringing. I just hope that a heritage body or a government agency comes forward to preserve them before they vanish due to neglect.”