Born in 1944 in British India, Prof. Ramesh Chandra Sharma has spent 50 years of his life painting. And after doing close to 20,000 paintings, exhibiting in several solo and group exhibitions all over the world and winning awards, he has no plans to retire anytime soon. “I am enjoying my life. Every day I spend 3-4 hours painting. I don’t paint to make money or attain fame and that’s the key to my happiness,” says the 77-year-old artist, whose latest exhibition was in Mumbai in March. RC Sharma, however, is not a fan of virtual exhibitions. He feels physical presence of the art and artist is necessary.
In his new book, Mixed Media: Journey of a Hyderabadi Artist, edited by his brother Dinesh C Sharma, he recalls how his career began, being mentored by the likes of MF Husain and Dr Jagdish Mittal, his first job with Ramoji Rao, his career as a teacher at College of Fine Arts and more. “I was attracted to drawing and painting since my childhood. I used to watch my art teacher in school paint for hours together. He taught me how to enlarge a small picture by using graph. He even encouraged me to submit my painting of Lord Krishna for an art competition at Numaish in 1957. I won a prize and it gave me tremendous power to continue doing art,” Sharma told Hyderabad Today.
After struggling to pass his 10th grade board exams, he soon joined a five-year diploma course at College of Fine Arts (now known as Jawaharlal Nehru Architecture and Fine Arts University). “My father used to be the manager at Commercial Printing Press and there he met Jagdish Mittal who suggested him that I join this course. I had no idea what the course was about and joined as the admission fee was just Rs 4-5. After my diploma, I got a job at Kiran Ads, owned by Ramoji Rao. I started working for a salary of Rs 250 and painted almost all the major hoardings in Andhra Pradesh,” reminisces Sharma.
MF Husain was also a regular visitor to the Commercial Printing Press. Sharing one of his fond memories with him, Sharma says, “My father asked me to go to Moti Bhawan, where Husain was staying and painting. Husain was working on a painting from the Ramayana series and asked me to paint the background in one colour, so he could draw on it later. He went to shower and reappeared after a couple of hours. He told me ‘aise nahi karte’ and squeezed 2-3 tubes of paint on the canvas and spread it with a cloth. This was a great lesson I learnt from him.”
He worked at Jal Kshatriya School for one-and-a-half year and later registered for a government job in the Employment Exchange. “That’s how I landed a job at College of Fine Arts. I was just 26 and happy to teach in my own college. I was given several teaching responsibilities and eventually rose to become Head, Department of Applied Arts. I retired in 2004 and that’s when I started showing interest in digital paintings,” says Sharma.
Sharma sold his first painting for Rs 5000 at a group exhibition in Bengaluru. He suggests young artists, “Do not concentrate on selling your paintings and making a huge sum of money. Work hard, be honest, have a passion for painting and success will come knocking on your door.”
Kindle Edition of Mixed Media: Journey of a Hyderabadi Artist is on Amazon for Rs 69.
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