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The wheel of an expatriate artist’s life

The wheel of an expatriate artist’s life
Highlights

Dakoji Devraj returned to his homeland with an exhibition after a little over two decades. The paintings and graphic prints at the expo, titled Wheel of Life at Shrishti Art Gallery, Jubilee Hills, were selected by his youngest daughter, Gautami, an interior designer

Artist Dakoji Devraj shifted base to the US in 1992 and has returned to Hyderabad after 20 years. He is exhibiting his paintings and graphic prints at an expo titled Wheel of Life at Shrishti Art Gallery. He speaks to Lakshmi Ramakrishna on the various hues of art

Dakoji Devraj returned to his homeland with an exhibition after a little over two decades. The paintings and graphic prints at the expo, titled Wheel of Life at Shrishti Art Gallery, Jubilee Hills, were selected by his youngest daughter, Gautami, an interior designer

A graduate from the College of Fine Arts and Architecture, Hyderabad, Dakoji Devraj enrolled at the MS University, Baroda, to study printmaking. Then, with a scholarship from the Andhra Pradesh Lalit Kala Akademi, he pursued postgraduate studies at Chelsea School of Arts, London. The US-based artist, who hails from Dharmojigudem in the State, has held exhibitions in every Indian metro, and it has been very well appreciated.

 Dakoji Devraj and Jagdish Mittal

Speaking about his work, Devraj says, “I keep reinventing myself every 10 years. I change my approach. For example the ongoing exhibition, The Wheel of Life, is a very old concept that I relate to Budhhism.” Hailing from a family of Ayurvedic physicians, Devraj was allowed to chart his path of art, thanks to his father, who encouraged him to do where his heart lay.

Recalling those days, the artist says, “During my free time, I used to help my grandfather and father in their work and also sketch. One of the tenants Prof. Radhakrishna, who used to teach at the Nizam College, saw my sketches and told my father to send me to the Fine Arts College.”

Recalling his early association with artists Laxma Goud and Suryaprakash, the New York based artist shares, “We used to work together. Jagdish Mittal and Kamla Mittal taught us batik so that we could earn some money. Later, I applied for a scholarship to Lalit Kala Akademi to study at London, but was rejected. Then my friends referred me to Jagdish-ji who wrote to the director about my ability. Laxma sir was a year senior to me, while Suryaprakash was four or five years senior.”

In 2004, Dakoji introduced MF Hussain to the chine-colle technique at the Robert Blackburn studio. “During those days Hussain saab would use a number of plates to get different colours and when I told him about this technique, he was very excited. In 2009, using this technique, the veteran artist made a print playing with different hues of black,” he recalls.

On whether the city has changed after he left, Devraj immediately mentions about the missing boulders. Nostalgically recalling the Stone Series, the artist talks about the stone installation held at the Max Muller Bhavan in 1978. “I had collected stones of different sizes as it was a way of nature and change in Hyderabad. I had exhibited them at Art Heritage in Delhi and later in Mumbai in 1980.”

Currently busy imparting his vast knowledge to young artists, Devraj has plans to return to his homeland. Sad about the state of affairs of printmaking at the Telugu University, he wants the authorities to take keen interest in things and start collaborations to further the art. The Wheel of Life expo will be on till Saturday. Dakoji will also be delivering a lecture today at 6 pm at DhiArtspace, Ameerpet.

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