PRATI YAAN (Returning to the source)
Deviprasad C Rao, fondly known as ‘Devi’, is a self-taught artist. His interest in art goes back to his childhood since the day he saw his father’s art works when he was eight year old. He always thought and felt that it is beautiful to be an artist. But he never thought he would live as an artist as it was not acceptable in the family to live as artist. His dream was to be a spy or architect or a performer.
As he grew up he ended up graduating as commerce student. Later he lost interest in education so he abruptly ended his post graduation quest and started working as marketing professional and moved on to become a PR professional and freelance photo journalist. That was the time he start seeing his leaning towards painting and sculpting again.
He seriously started painting to heal himself from the stress and trauma that he was facing in his personal life. He meaninglessly started painting and made it as his meditation, the way of life. In 2002 when his paintings were compared with modern masters likes of Paul Klee and Joan Miro his interest in evolving himself as an artist grew stronger.
It was his Barcelona visit in 2002 lead to a life changing decision in his life where he experienced original works of Joan Miro, Pablo Picasso and Antonio Tapias. After his return he made a vow to leave everything for art and live rest of the life as an artist. The very next year his life as professional artist begun with a solo show in Oshoworld Galleria in New Delhi.
Evolution as an Artist : Early Days
In childhood Devi always focused on creating look good imaginary landscapes using water colors or pastels. He also taught himself to make portraits of movies stars and saints watching their photographs. Art as a hobby continued till his graduation. Since then there was a gap of 8 years when he returned to creating paintings. Self-healing was just a reason. But it was Osho’s vision of Objective Art changed him and stirred his inner core. That lead to use Osho Commune Art Studio as his studio to paint and interacted with artists from across the world. That was also the time his paintings were compared with Paul Klee. Devi’s knowledge of art history was very minimal. He was not even aware who the Paul Klee was. But when he came to know his vision of himself expanded. That was also the time he was introduced to Joan Miro. Miro’s work called Blue I II and III was the painting that touched his soul. He made it as his mission to evolve himself as professional artist since then. That wish also lead him to visit various museums in India, Singapore and Malaysia. Eventually he decided to visit Barcelona to see Blue I II and III. However his wish was not fulfilled as the works were in different county and museum. But he got the taste of masters such as Miro and Picasso and their original works. It also brought him to know who Antonio Gaudi was. In such creative ambience Devi just realised who he is and who he can be. Soon after his return from Barcelona fragrance of his work started spreading and he started selling works. In 2003 he had a solo show. It was the beginning of his exclusive life as an artist. If his works were figurative and realism in his childhood, he transformed himself as an abstract artist. He developed his own aesthetic sense of creating compositions. He let his intuitive self guide him. Most of the works were feeling oriented, pure abstraction. His works were however, appeared more psychedelic and naïve.
Evolution as an artist : New beginning
All this changed once he moved to Goa from Pune in 2004. He quit his PR job and freelance journalism. And begun his life as full time artist. There he came across senior artists who had already made their mark in Goan art scene. In fact it was his friendship with abstract artists Suhas Shilker and Antonio e Costa lead Devi to introspect about his own progress as an artist. He was inspired to evolve his own style of work and evolution as his new mantra. It was 2006, he started seeing new vision in his work. That was the time he learnt about American master Jackson Pollok, Armenian Archil Gorky and Canadian Brice Marden. He found his way to express his own visual language. He became more rebellious in his expression. He was adventurous and more interested in unknown possibilities. He made it a point to ensure Line and Dots makes integral part of his expression as they decide the final outcome of the imagery.
Taking clue from Jackson Pollock he started dripping colors, taking clue from Brice Marden he started creating lines using bamboo sticks, tree barks, coco nut sticks, kabab sticks etc. Taking clue from Gorky he was rebellious with his forms and lines and fearless, taking clue from Miro he composed his works delicate and fragile and lose and spacious. Taking clue from Klee, he used colors in patches and limited places and created his own applications of them. Eventually, his own meditative life style, importance for self-realisation, following self lead him to consistently create body of works that eventually connected him to his style and applications.
Evolution as an artist: Inner Explosion
He enjoyed being outsider to art world not being conditioned to any school of thought or style. This very freedom of expression gave him enormous power and strength to walk his path. Only guide was his own intuition or intuitive self. He kept saying, “I will carve my own path. However, difficult it may be, I will endure the happiness in doing so. I achieve something to the satisfaction of my heart with free will and soul.” The result of it was many technically refreshing series of works such as Beyond Barcelona, Buddha Series, Construction-Deconstruction, Floating World, Transformers etc. These series of works also gave Devi international exposure. His clientele was spread across the world. By the end of 2012, 10 years after he turned professional artist he had already few shows abroad. And had collectors of his work in 21 different countries.
Evolution as an Artist : Spreading the wings
As his works evolved, gaining more acceptability by the day, Lisbon, Portugal capital beckoned him. In 2014 Devi got a break with a massive solo exhibition with a prestigious museum in Lisbon called Museu do Orient. His Lisbon Impact series of works consisting of 210 piece of works went on display and making 58 of his works as part of permanent collections in the same museum. That was beginning of a progression of his style into more intense and dense work titled as Den-City series.
Evolution as an artist: Birth of a Sculptor
Not restricting himself to the canvas medium alone, he attempted creating three-dimensional work after he had an opportunity to work with famous sculptor Radha Krishnan. However he was unsure what medium can render his works. Experimenting in different mediums, he discovered that metal, bronze or copper wires could render his linier structure to the work. His experiment with GS wire and Bronze were very successful. Some of the works could even be displayed as mobiles. He is certain that wire sculpture mixed with other mediums can scale his style of paintings into three dimensional representations soon.
Play of Lines and Dots
Integral part of Devi’s works are lines and dots. Devi’s inner core perceives everything in terms of lines and dots surrounding the forms and figures. Even if it is perceived by the mind as realism or landscape or anything that is defined subject or object, he perceives them with lines and conclude with dots and dashes.
His lines are not monotonous. Most of the works has playful and serious lines of different and versatile kind. According to him lines are of million kind. His works are witness in themselves as more the veracity of line the more depth the work endures. His lines are childlike, playful, at times automatic, thin, thick, broken and appears as if they do not have beginning or end. But they appear only on top of a structure of coloured composition. He colours first and then he defines them with lines of different kind and he finishes them with deliberately created dots or dashes and also controlled sprinkle of dots. These very lines and dots gives quality to his works and gives rise to an identifiable signature style of his work. This is his own discovery and evolution.
Prathi Yaan means returning to the source. This exhibition is taking place in his native land where he was born and begun his life. Land where he got taste of creativity through Yakshagana and Bahratanatyam. Land where he still keeps his spiritual connection.
In this exhibition we can witness his progression of last 10 years since he found his own visual language. They are versatile. Different. Refreshing. Provoking. Challenging. The drawings, sketches, miniatures, canvas paintings and copper wire sculptures displayed in this exhibition are the witness of life time experience of Devi of his own life and his surroundings. Devi had his solo show in Mangalore’s Orchid Art Gallery in 2009. This show will comprise works of different series lending it with a broader perspective. As he says ‘I construct and restore’, creating with dots an illusion of space and perspective between the forms.
- William Pais
Author, Curator and Gallery Director