In year 2012 I illustrated a 60-page comic book titled- The Adventures of Mr. IP. It was a unique comic book concept by leading Law firm Anand&Anand, New Delhi. Check out an article about it published in The Indian Express Newspaper

PRESS REVIEWS of Raman’s paintings

Exhibition of Paintings and Drawings at the Museum of Fine Arts, Panjab University, Chandigarh from October 31 to November 4, 2000

Raman Bhardwaj’s paintings and drawings reflect his endeavor to prevail over human frailties. This young artist refuses to paint the ugliness of our milieu.  Not for him beggars or common men.  His realistically painted protagonist is strong, almost superhuman, a man who struggles with obstacles symbolized in his paintings by logs, frames and bars.  In most works a lone male figure with muscular physique represents universal man.  Shorn of all symbols, the nudes on his canvas represent no particularly community or clan – not even in hisChakravayuh series when he borrows from Hindu mythology to portray Abhimanyu.  Abhimanyu is a metaphor for courage character, an embodiment of his ideal of the superhuman.  Says Raman, “He is my muse, my catharsis.”  In some canvases – later works indicative of the artist’s growth –  the face of the figure remains featureless.

Initially he was deeply impressed by Greek artists.  The Greek influence is seen in Undefeated – an interesting work in which the head shrouded and great attention is lavished on the figure’s well delineated hand.  the figurative art is what he prefers and he finds it near impossible to paint without them.  In both Lust and Dream, female figures appear.  So is his superhuman trying to conquer primal instincts?  Refreshingly, his answer is no…

Hindustan Times, Chandigarh, October 31, 2000

THE HUMAN body is so pervasive in Raman Bhardwaj’s paintings that he seems to carve a genre out of it.  His acrylics, poster colours, drawings and oils, chart a geography of sensuousness and a variety of themes hinges on it.  In his Abhimanyu paintings, he uses Greek motifs to tease a modern philosophy of endurance-and-struggle out of the famous theme.  The wheel and the body – one symbolizing the abstractness of time and the other the human capacity eternally pitted against it – are the two poles that hold between them a saga in which human effort slugs it out with history.  In these paintings his wonderful sense of composition helps him achieve a great narrative effect.

His colour drawings Rival-I and Rival-II are not just a lyrical tribute to body.  Here the sheer physicality of the Abhimanyu paintings vanishes to make place for a vision of the body that rhythmically develops into a dialectic.

The Indian Express, Chandigarh, November 1, 2000

“My human figures are continuously struggling to achieve a certain idealism.  The man, to satisfy his lust for perfection, tries to put superhuman efforts,” Raman said.  “I project him like a strong, well-built hero who cannot under any circumstances give up” the twenty five years old artist added.  Another aspect of Raman’s works is the Chakravyuh series, which revolves around the mythical hero Abhimanyu.  The character, according to Raman suits the superhuman image and the wheel depicted in the painting symbolises the movement of time, where the hero changes but not the circle of human struggles.

The Tribune, Chandigarh, November 1, 2000

He is fascinated by the indomitable spirit, never say die attitude and it shows in his paintings.  That he is at war with himself becomes clear with one glance at his paintings.  And he admits it too in a s many words.  “My war is with myself, a continuous strife towards my targets, a constant fight to remove all obstacles and depressions.”   Elements like the bell, a symbol of slavery, wooden bars, logs and frames have been used to depict struggles and depressions.  Titles of the paintings themselves speak volumes of the painter’s mindset- Undefeated, Framed, Passion, Wounded- all depicting the strife within oneself.

The Times of India, Chandigarh, November 4, 2000

Exhibition of Paintings at the Alliance Francaise, Chandigarh & Lalit Kala akademi, New Delhi held in October 2003

Impressions and expressions ! Two sides of the coin, interlinked and enjoined… in an artist’s life.  Only as an artist evolves, he tries to consciously fight some isms as also imbibe some.  So art for Raman Bhardwaj is all about striking an equilibrium between inspiration and discipline, visual appeal and concept.  “Like life, in art the extemporaneous and deliberate play simultaneously”.  So as his exhibition ‘Impressions and Expressions’ opened on Tuesday atr Alliance Francaise Art Gallery, it integrates various elements to evolve a visual language that is, at once aesthetic and evocative.  Celebratory and thought-provoking.  Spontaneous yet nowhere near chaotic.  Powerful visuals supported by compelling leitmotif.  Thematic seed was sown when he reflected upon dual forces at work on human life.  “Just as being an Indian trained in Western school of thought, man is torn between two set of values, so life pulls and pushes us into different directions. One within our control and the other beyond us”. And his four-part work, in particular, lends lucid meaning to his belief, “the tussle between human valour and fate is incessant.” Hence hands itself connote human paradox.  On this very hand, runs our fate line and hands alone are capable to action.  Cosmic vs mortal, as he captures human endeavour as also struggle, the imagery melts from joyous to sad and profound.  From direct to complex (just a hint of moustache to underline male hood, a touch of saffron to emphasise spirituality).
Of course, at times, it acquires more graphic hues almost narrative in a work recreating train accident.  Or the one encapsulating human indifference. Right now it’s his exhibition that conveys artistic vigour.  Force of line coupled with keen sense of colour and remarkable balance of exciting compositions.

(The Hindustan Times, Chandigarh : 16 October 2003)

Raman Bhardwaj’s art is of the possible and the impossible.  The hand that yearns to grasp and the world that eludes once too often set off a rhythm of desire and despair.  between his ‘Impressions and Expressions’ runs the itinerary of this mythic journey.
His 20-odd paintings on display are as much an evolving thesis on man’s struggle with destiny as a lyrical brush with an abysmal sesitivity.  Framed in a frisson of sudden delight, one stands and stares at coalcscing pastels and acrylics.
A strong line and cunning composition mark each of the paintings.  Waht injects the soul in Raman’s very neat craft is his seminal inspiration.  There are strokes which speaks volumes of fine balance between force and rhythm.
In Raman’s paintings, the measure of man never exceeds the span of the hand that bears imprints of destiny.  His series of ‘hand’ paintings in orange and brown are striking compositions.  Crouching figures in sepia shades — bent, bundled, stretched — over-shadowed by grotesque hands have a compositional logic which becomes apparent when one is hit by the feeling that there always are inviolable limits to human action.
The blue, for Raman, becomes the colour of an emancipatory realisation–the world is more about harmony than conflict.  About half-a-dozen paintings are of figures–lithe and supple–of celebrations.  The stylized, a little mannered, anatomy in these paintings is, in fact, a shift from perception of body as bandage to body as freedom.  A man playing on a musical intrument, an athlete-like figure, an almost dancing man are paintings which underline a realisation about the potential of the human body which is not necessarily pitted against universal forces.
The ‘Natraja’ or ‘danceing man’ painting, which sums up Raman’s series brings together the tremulous thematic strands in earlier paintings.  the choice of Natraja itself tells about eternal play of energy which leaves out nothing in the cosmos.
One another painting which depicts a train accident is remarkable more for its leap of thought than its execution.  A mess of mangled bodies in a train compartment reminds of Bruegel.

(Indian Express, Chandigarh : 15 October 2003)

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