Rameshwar Broota (b. 1941)
A painter known for depicting the male body in various forms — from muscular to skeletal, Ramsehwar Broota works in a distinctive ‘scratch’ technique, where different layers of paint are first applied to a surface and then scraped with a sharp knife to create textured images. In addition to painting, he also works across photography, sculpture, film-making and digital imaging.
Born in Delhi, Broota studied at the Delhi Polytechnic College of Art (now the Delhi College of Art) from 1960 to 1964. After his graduation, he worked at the institution as a lecturer, following which he briefly worked at Jamia Millia Islamia and the Sarada Ukil School of Art. From 1967 onwards, he was the head of Triveni Kala Sangam.
Broota’s interest in the human figure has remained a steady and persistent theme in his practice. His portrayals are often grim, and sometimes caricatures. One of his earliest paintings is his Self Portrait (1963), in which he renders himself in a whimsical realist style, showing the artist staring into distance, lost in contemplation. In his painting Runners (1982), two muscular male figures are depicted in the nude, with one of them standing with his eyes gouged out. Beside them is a meat-selling slaughterhouse with a carcass hanging at the shop-front. Emphatically modeled around flesh, this composition blurs the distinction between human and animal.
In the 1970s, Broota’s work was dominated by the images of anthropomorphised apes, painted colorfully and often cast in humorous dispositions to represent members of society such as politicians, military generals, police, judges, and government officials. This worldly satire shifted towards depicting a primordial image of man from the 1980s, embracing universal and humanist themes. In paintings from this period, the body was depicted viscerally, drawing on Broota’s study of anatomy, with protruding ribs, muscular torsos and bony joints. In his late works, such as his Traces of Man series, natural landscapes and forms like trees and mountains became prominent, evoking a sense of quietude and eeriness.
Broota’s work has been widely exhibited nationally and internationally at institutions such as the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi; Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi; Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi; Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi; Aicon Gallery, London; and the Singapore Art Museum, among others. His work is part of private and public collections at the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi; the Rashtrapati Bhavan; Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi; Chester and Davida Herwitz Collection, USA; Peabody Essex Museum, USA, Jane and Kito de Boer Collection, Dubai; Kunst Museum, Germany; and Josip Broz Tito Museum, Yugoslavia.
He has been honored with awards such as the Lifetime Achievement Award at Lalit Arpan Festival (2013), Kala Vibhushan by the All Indian Fine Arts and Crafts Society (1997), and the National Award by Lalit Kala Akademi (1980, 1981, and 1984).
At the time of writing, the artist lives and works in New Delhi.
Arora, Ankush. “Rameshwar Broota’s unsettling visions of paranoia and vulnerabilities in our moment of reckoning.” Firstpost. July 26, 2020. https://www.firstpost.com/art-and-culture/rameshwar-brootas-unsettling-visions-of-paranoias-and-vulnerabilities-in-our-moment-of-reckoning-8635101.html
“Bio.” Rameshwar Broota. Accessed, March 30, 2022. https://www.brootarameshwar.com/bio-rameshwar-broota/
D’mello, Rosalyn. “The Descent of Man.” Open. November 19, 2014. https://openthemagazine.com/art-culture/the-descent-of-man/
“Edge of The Precipice: The Art Of Rameshwar Broota.” Outlook. February 3, 2022. https://www.outlookindia.com/website/story/edge-of-the-precipice-the-art-of-rameshwar-broota/214002
“Rameshwar Broota.” Saffronart. Accessed, March 30, 2022. https://www.saffronart.com/artists/rameshwar-broota
“Rameshwar Broota.” Vadehra Art Gallery. Accessed, March 30, 2022. https://www.vadehraart.com/artists/34-rameshwar-broota/