Artability: 10 emerging artists worth tracking
A year after Civil Society launched Artability, we are back with a new edition showcasing 10 artists with disabilities doing outstanding work. Follow them from here and discover their valuable collections.
They each have their personal styles and ways of viewing the world. If one thing runs in common it is a high level of skill. They are professional artists in their own right.
They are both self-taught and trained. They are also teaching art to others. Their capacity to rise above their challenges in effort to express themselves makes them very special.
For several years now, Civil Society has given space to the Beyond Limits exhibition held by Preeti Johar of the Family of Disabled. It carries forward the work of Preeti’s father, Dr Rajinder Johar, who suffered from quadriplegia after an accident and founded Family of Disabled.
Artability seeks to build on the event to be a destination for artists and their work which might not otherwise find notice.
“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life,” said Picasso. What about those who are differently abled? What does art do for them? Join Civil Society in this exploration.
Real and surreal
Profoundly influenced by surrealism from an early age, Deepali Sharma is inspired by Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali. She finds painting “the best way to express inner feelings and dreams”.
Her style is a blend of the real and surreal. She works with charcoal, oil, acrylic and woodcut.
Captivity II is an example of her surrealism explored through acrylic on canvas. Sadhu I & II deal with godmen and spiritual power.
Deepali has participated in exhibitions internationally and across the country at venues such as the Lalit Kala Akademi and Arpana Art Gallery.
Deepali, 33, is hearing impaired and based in Rajasthan. She has a master’s degree in art. Her work can be found on her Instagram account (@deepaliart) and website (www.deepaliart.com).
Eye for the vivid
A talented singer and vibrant artist, 25-year-old Anubha Agrawal is based in New Delhi. Her experiments with the brush began at the early age of three.
While she has dabbled in other art forms like resin art, fluid art and woodcut-prints, her favourite medium is oil on canvas. Most of her work is an array of landscapes in vivid and vibrant colours.
Many of her paintings have been selected and displayed at various art galleries where her style was appreciated and received wide press coverage. Her work has also been showcased at the National Gallery of Modern Art. Anubha, who has been diagnosed with autism, also has a master’s degree in Hindustani classical music from Delhi University.
Deft with acrylics
A master of acrylic on canvas, 30-year-old Chhavi Sharma has more than a decade of experience as an artist.
Her themes range from togetherness, as seen in her painting titled Living Together, to nature and life, as expressed in her work, Roots of Life. She also experiments with modern art.
Chhavi, who has a master’s degree in art, is hearing impaired but that has not hampered her creative journey. A recipient of the Samaj Ratna Award from the Rajasthan Jan Manch, Chhavi is based in Jaipur. She has participated in exhibitions held in various countries such as South Korea, the US and at home at prestigious venues like the Lalit Kala Akademi and Jawahar Kala Kendra, among others.
Inspired by green
Loose brush strokes and abstract elements are typical of the work of Kabir Vernal. His inspiration comes from nature, but it is in the abstractions that his signature can be found.
Kabir is just 11 years old and is primarily a non-speaking child on the autism spectrum. He is home schooled in Hyderabad.
As his skill has grown, Kabir has been experimenting with a range of textures, often choosing his colour palette on his own.
He is the recipient of a gold medal in the junior artist category at Star Future Artist. He has held a solo exhibition at the Arpana Art Gallery.
Kabir’s creations are sold on the Atypical Advantage website. You can also see his works on his Instagram (@artby.kabir) and Facebook (Art By Kabir).
Dharamsala and more
Based in the idyllic town of Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh, Beetan Goswami’s art mirrors the serene and scenic mountains his home is nestled in.
His work, Cloudy Beauty, defines his perception of the world around him.
Beetan is 43. He is hearing impaired. Water colour is his chosen medium.
Located as he is in the mountains, Beetan’s work is suffused with nature’s bounty. His is a quest for peace.
Snowy Nature is a good example of his bonding with the elements. Blue City captures the essence of the city of Jodhpur as he perceives it.
Nature and the female form
The female form, depicted in a state of nudity, fascinates Mamta Bera. It is through the female form that she explores her ‘intricate connect’ with nature.
“My artworks serve as a means of reimagining and recreating memories from my past, particularly my childhood,” says Mamta.
The artist in her is the observer weaving her own “narratives and interpretations” of what she perceives.
Nature is at the heart of her work. She uses acrylic as her medium of expression.
Rather than emphasize the subject, she chooses to rely on vibrant colours to convey emotions.
Mamta, 25, has muscular dystrophy. She is based in New Delhi and has an art degree.
Innocence and maturity
Is it possible to be simple in theme and intricate in form? Rohit Vyas shows how. A cat or a horse could be just what they are or intricately come to life on his canvas. Search has a cat looking out for food. Ashwa depicts the power and strength of the horse. Innocent Childhood explores ideas of hope and the dreams that lie ahead.
His recurrent themes are the quest for solitude, the peace in nature and animals as symbols of power and strength.
He works with a variety of mediums such as water colour, charcoal and acrylic water colour on canvas. His detailed work has striking use of colour and bold yet intricate strokes lend his art a distinct identity of its own.
Twenty-five-year-old Rohit has speech and hearing impairment and is based in Udaipur, Rajasthan.
Fighting back with art
“My mother inspired me to battle the challenges of life and empowered me to carve my own creative niche,” says Sadhna Dhand, an artist based in Raipur.
Trained in multiple art forms like Tanjore, stained glass painting, murals and sculpting, Sadhna has been able to carve an identity for herself far removed from her physical limitations.
With a diploma in fine arts, Sadhna has trained over 20,000 students in various fine art forms at her home since 1982.
Sadhna, 67, was born with osteogenesis imperfecta, a congenital bone disorder, colloquially known as brittle-bone disease.
Despite having suffered from 80 fractures and loss of hearing and mobility by the age of 15, she has continued to create art as a way to combat life’s challenges.
Many ways to paint
It was in a train accident when she was just four years old that Sheela Sharma lost her arms. Her mother also died in that accident.
She was sent to an orphanage and began going to a primary school where her teachers discovered her incredible ability to sketch using her mouth and toes. Over time, she began painting with her mouth and now at 55, she has a vast repertoire of work.
Sheela’s chosen medium is acrylic on canvas. Most of her artwork centres around themes like flowers, Lord Ganesha and love between mother and child. She has a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and is an active member of the association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists (MFPA).
In a message to people with disabilities, she says, “If one is willing, one can achieve it all…nobody is incapable of doing anything.”
Digital art and pictures
Sam Varghese, an 18-year-old based in Kerala, sees dots and lines as the root of all objects. It is perhaps this perspective that is reflected in his art, lending it a unique flavour.
His work, Lines and Dots, epitomizes his thought process, while another, titled The Forest, highlights the theme of beauty in a collection of things.
Sam works primarily with digital art. He finds it serves as a useful means of expression for him.
Sam, who has autism, also enjoys photography. He has received training in nature and shadow photography. He finds joy in art, photography and cooking and has recently completed his schooling.