The blinds are tightly drawn across the windows, the sun shut out. It’s a room that looks inwards. And artist Rameshwar Broota would not have it any other way. “I like to regulate the amount of light that enters,” says the 66-year-old sitting in his second-floor studio at Triveni Kala Sangam, Delhi. “The light outside keeps changing and with it the shades of the canvas. I don’t like that. So when I paint, I shut the windows and switch the bulb on. I can work only in yellow light.”
The room has been Broota’s studio since 1967, when he took over as the head of the department of art at Triveni. “The location is perfect since the students can approach me any time,” he says. The white walls of the room are bare, except for a small photograph of his nine-year-old daughter Vasvi.
The room reflects his two sides: the academic and the artist. Catalogues of his previous exhibitions are stacked in a glass cabinet at the centre of the room. On a larger shelf, near the door, are books on art that were once part of the Triveni library. “The collection isn’t a big one so we shifted it here a couple of years back,” says Broota, known for his dark depiction of the human condition.
The easel standing against the wall is empty. For now, the Mac computer is his workstation. With his first solo photography exhibition lined up for December, Broota is giving finishing touches to the images. One digitally-altered photograph—two fingers pointed at each other—is mounted on the front wall. “I usually put a work from my current series here,” says Broota.
Another table is heaped with brushes, half-filled bottles of acrylics and boxes of blades that Broota uses to scrape off layers of paint from his canvases, expose the white surface below and create deep spatial dimensions —the “nick-blade” technique he is famous for.
The studio is his comfort zone, one he just can’t venture out of. “I had bought a bigger place in Vasant Kunj. I have another apartment near Barakhamba Road. But somehow I don’t like working anywhere apart from this room.”