Raju Deshpande: An Artist’s Approach to telling stories without words
Raju Deshpande is an artist with a passion of conveying whatever comes to his mind through drawings and visuals. This has been his mode of expression for the longest time that he can remember.
He began his experiment with the process of creating visuals in various different ways for 30 days, and found that it was possible to make a painting out of a new process everyday. He started making things for his family initially. After finding appreciation, he decided to publish his work for a larger audience.
Raju Deshpande passed out of art college in 1981. He has been practicing art since the past 37 years. He does illustrations and book covers for a living, and simultaneously experiments with paintings and drawings for his own creative expression. He utilises various different styles for his own work. He prefers to focus on the process of creating an artwork rather than the end result itself. He doesn’t visualise a painting before he starts work on it. “Some people make their journey from the blank canvass to what they have visualised. Instead of doing that, I start making something, and I let that painting evolve”, he says.
Raw Material: Unlimited
He uses a lot of different mediums. He has experimented with enamel painting on paper; enamel painting on handmade paper. And for one or two months, he just used this medium to give shape to his artwork without actually visualising the end product. He knows that there is a lot of scope for spontaneity and experimentation in his work.
What evolves out of his labour is never something that he formulates in his mind. Sometimes, he just picks a colour and gives shape to his artwork through focussing on using that one colour. There was a time when he wanted to use just dots to create a painting. These are his ways of taking on the challenge of creating something without an endgame in mind. He does agree that there are times when the process has to be discarded because it just doesn’t take some shape, or a form. But he continues as he does achieve success more often than not.
Balancing the Commercial with Personal Creative Expression
There is no scope for this kind of spontaneity in his commercial practice. He enjoys the freedom to choose his processes only in his personal work. He enjoys the flow of things in his processes. This is actually reversing the process of what he does in his professional work to earn his bread and butter.
The advantages of commercial work are also not hidden for him. He likes the fact that a certain brief is given which has to be completed in a stipulated amount of time. This is a great advantage for an artist as well, since it disciplines his work.
The ultimate value that he derives from his personal creations is absolute joy and happiness. The satisfaction that he gets when someone sees his personal work and admires its beauty is what keeps him going as well. “I like painting to be a joyful experience and love the spirit of complete freedom in my processes”, he says. He believes he has a relationship with his paintings. He believes one takes his own experiences and thoughts to interact with an art form.
Telling Stories Without Words
He now works on books without text. These books don’t have text. Instead, Raju fills them up with sequential pictures depicting a story or an experience. Anyone who looks at his books, interprets these stories in his or her own way. He sees his books as telling multiple stories through the multiple interactions of each individual reader engaging with his books. The response to his books has been surprising, even to himself. Some people are seriously considering his books in order to help people with learning disabilities. A psychotherapist even approached him to discuss the possibility of utilizing his books for therapy for patients. While Raju Deshpande’s purpose for creating books only with illustrative content might have been different, he is surprised and happy how others have taken to his books. They have found use-value in his books for cure and health services.
Freedom to Create: Instinct and the Art Form
Raju Deshpande has been painting since childhood. He had a beautiful environment at his home as a child. Nobody stopped him, gave him instructions or criticized his way of painting when he was young. He realizes he was fortunate that his parents never said, “Oh! An elephant is not made the way you are making it!” and just let him be with what he was drawing. He has retained that playfulness in his paintings, he feels. The habit of following his instincts is still a part of him, and shows in his work even today.