For this Chandigarh artist, art comes naturally and after having spent most of the time in ‘City Beautiful’ he’s making waves in North Carolina, US. Born in 1976, Raman Bhardwaj spent 40 years of his life in Chandigarh and recently he has completed a project in which he has painted a truck that’s providing meals for coronavirus warriors there.
Son of a Punjabi writer, Raman was always encouraged to draw since his childhood. And it was only on his suggestion that he went to the Government College of Art in Sector 10 to pursue his BFA degree and also did an MA in History of Art from Panjab University. He emerged as the topper in both places since it was his subject of passion.
“I started my career as a newspaper illustrator with the Indian Express in 1997 while on the side I was creating canvas art and holding solo exhibitions and participating in group shows, workshops etc. I also worked as an art critic with Chandigarh Newsline for about 7 years. My newspaper career came to an end after I quit my job as a Chief Designer with Times of India. At that time, I wanted to explore animation and I worked with www.santabanta.com for cartoons, animations before going to a full-time freelance career in 2010”, he says.
Sharing details of his journey to the US, Raman says, “In 2018, I came to the USA, on the coveted artist visa, landed in North Carolina as a freelance artist to work with my clients on children books and animations and designs and create some paintings. After I reached here my passion for painting came to the forefront which had taken a backseat for the last few years as I explored spiritual practices like meditation and astrology in search of peace and truth and meaningful existence. I received great encouragement for my canvas paintings and I created 60 figurative paintings last year, many of them sold.”
“Then, I was exposed to a new art form, wall murals which added a whole new dimension to my art. There is a great culture and history associated with public art and graffiti in the west and I was fascinated to try it out because one it is so large scale and challenging (some of them 24×32 ft) and second it is for the public rather than being enclosed inside a high brow gallery. It instantly reaches out to people and I love that aspect of it. I had a good start with murals and in the last one year I have painted 24 large murals in and around the city of Greensboro. Most of them commissioned by Kotis Street art who bring top notch international artists to create murals in the city.”
Recently I did a mobile mural which is painted on a box truck of 24×7 ft dimensions. I just happened to be there. I went to meet Marty, the owner of Kotis Street Art and he showed me his truck that they were getting primed for a mural by another local artist Jenna Rice who painted a portrait of a nurse to support the “feed the front liners” project that provided meals for health care workers. I was invited to paint the other side of the truck with a superhero theme. There is a big comic fan following in America and I loved the concept. So, I painted a bunch of superheroes such as Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Captain America, Thor etc. fighting Covid-19. My background as an illustrator was helpful in executing this piece in two days with graffiti spray paint cans and markers. This was created to motivate the health care superheroes who are right now fighting this fierce battle all over the world and I see news of many nurses breaking down due to the fear and strenuous hours at jobs and watching so many deaths. I thought this would add a bright spot in their lives and could bring a smile on their face.
It is very well received by the public. People and healthcare workers are excited to see it. The effort is to make them feel appreciated.
I plan to continue this journey of art here in the USA, creating more public art, creating more canvas art, and illustrating more children’s books, and staying curious towards exploring creativity and artistic expression in every form.