Rouble Nagi - Portrait of the Artist

This Kashmir-born artist works predominantly in the medium of murals and installations, most of which are large-scale projects. To her, art is more than the perception of beauty and the intention of the creator; it is about interpretation. Taking inspiration from life itself, she has completed more than 800 murals worldwide. Meet Rouble Nagi, who believes that the only phenomenon that is a constant in life is change. She loves spending time with children at her NGO, the Rouble Nagi Art Foundation, and running art camps and balwadi for them. She sits down for an artsy chat with us.

What type of art do you most identify with? And what’s your favourite artwork?
Art is a way of showing the outside world what your inside world is like. It is manifested by beliefs, ideals, and perception. If an artist’s creative piece can start a discussion of whether that piece is art or not, then it is art to me. Art is something that inspires people, something that transports us into different realities and moves us into the subconscious places that we did not know existed. Michelangelo’s David is among my favourites; it’s one of the most iconic works in the history of art. Another one would be Pablo Picasso’s Guitar. Picasso’s innovation was to eschew the conventional carving and modeling of a sculpture out of a solid mass. Instead, Guitar was fastened together like a structure. Two years after making Guitar in cardboard, Picasso created a version in snipped tin.

What do you dislike about the art world?
“Just not good enough” are the words that ring in the ears of every young artist that approaches established galleries. We really must stop celebrating creativity depending on how it is monetised by the art market.

Can you describe a real-life situation that inspired you?
Life is a learning process, and our experiences – both good and bad – are a part it. So life in itself is inspirational. I visited a mall once with my husband. While trying to find a place to park, I told him to see all the cars that were parked in a manner that created symmetry. I told him, “See, this is an installation”. Later when I created an installation with what I had seen, it left him spellbound. We still have it displayed in his office. In short, I am inspired by life and events.

Tell us about Rouble Nagi Art Foundation.
I have always wanted to set up an art school for the underprivileged children. As I worked towards it, Rouble Nagi Art Foundation took shape. I have seen my NGO grow, and I am happy that people are aware of it. I also believe that we have good in all of us, and need to make use of whatever kind of power we have for the betterment of society. This year I plan to hold art camps to sponsor children’s education, and to help artists who cannot afford to showcase their work. There are eight art camps that are slated for this year in various locations, including Kashmir.

How would you represent an Indian woman through installation art?
To represent the Indian woman, I have already created many sculptures. My favourite of all is the mother and child concept. However, this subject is very popular among visual artists. It’s always interesting to create such a soft subject with stone or bronze, but often a challenge to give a soft emotion to a hard material. Most of my ‘Mother and Child’ sculptures are in marble and bronze.

Do you have any advice for aspiring artists?
It’s all about being patient. It is important for every young artist to believe in their work and not compete with anyone but themselves. Sooner or later, your time will come.             – as told to Sumana