Lisbon Calling (Den-City Series)

Deviprasad C. Rao never studied art formally, but did so at home with his uncle who in turn learnt from Devi’s father. Even though his family was into art, Devi did not turn into an artist immediately, but there was an incubation period,  during which the subconsciousevolved and later the first mindscapes turned into paintings.

Devi knew that art would not bring him quick returns and put his hand to other professions. From an accountant, to the dream of becoming a detective, Devi turned to marketing and public relations. Art became a holiday hobby and he developed a fascination for portraits. Curiously enough,  though Devi is not a Christian, he once saw Jesus in his dream and decided to paint Him. Till date he goes to church from time to time for solace and meditation.

Marketing and PR became an obsession and took away all his free time. Art remained in the backburner for over 8 years.

His first son Devakanta inspired Devi to come back to art and from then on, art became a  medium for healing and meditation. Children actually became a source of inspiration. Working spontaneously, moving freely around the work not worried about the details and specially working intuitively, were important lessons that Devi imbibed in his artworkfrom observing children. 

Osho Ashram was where Devi had his first studio, where he had an opportunity to meet artists from Europe, where his paintings were compared to those of great painters like Paul Klee, Joan Miró. This inspired him to go to Barcelona and was the major turning point in Devi’s work. It was in Barcelona that he surrendered himself to painting. He decided that art would be the driving force in his life however difficult that might be. Inspired by this city he creates his first city representation Beyond Barcelona. He never turned  back again. At this  time Goa beckoned him; here Devi found peace to ruminate and paint and draw inspiration.

Soon Devi started thinking ,more in global terms and cities emerged: Rio de Janeiro, New York, Berlin, Paris.

The concept of the city was there. The density, the architectural details were the next step and the idea of the Den-city came to life but which would be his first city? A city that would incite his imagination, that would attract him? Barcelona, Lisbon, Florence? That is when he came across with an article in New York Times about Lisbon. The choice was made.

So far Devi had created cities looking at pictures and videos, but now it was different. Lisbon was calling him. Once he reached there he understood why. Every time he visited Lisbon, it looked different. This was a city that truly fascinated him. From air, from sea, from land, Devi grabbed those lines, the curves of the church domes, the winding path of the trams, the triangular shapes of roofs, the way the houses huddle becoming more and more dense. Every corner of Lisbon had it’s own different characters. Every angle had a new perspective. For those who know Lisbon, will surely recognize in the middle of his abstract work, certain symbols, which are omnipresent in Devi’s work such Nossa Senhora do Monte who has given spiritual orientation to the artist, the elevator of Santa Justa, the church of Santa Engrácia, river Tagus or the beautiful old yellow trams. All these elements put together gave shape to the first Den-city: Lisbon Impact which was presented at Museu do Oriente as a solo exhibition. His works are a fusion of abstract and realism. Using lines, dots, black and coloured patches, he created 211 drawings and canvases  (apart from the photographs and a video installation) out of which 58 are now part of the permanent collection of the Museu do Oriente in Lisbon.

Invited by the Consul General of Portugal to bring his work to Goa, Devi, with his detective eye, his intuition and his easiness to mingle with people brought his elected city to Goa: Lisbon Calling.  In counterpoint this Devi’s spellbound impression of Lisbon, is now displayed in a city,which once upon a time too enamored the Portuguese.

- Nalini Elvino de Sousa
September, 2016