The setting: global cities like Mumbai and Dubai. The aim: to give voice to the masses in the form of pattern, colour and free flowing goodness! That is the beauty of artist Rouble Nagi’s work. This famed artist has turned the city of Mumbai into a heady canvas of sorts as she portrays her firm belief in the abstract to represent the varied moods of the city and its people. Her colors and murals decorate the walls and nooks of the city even as her art has been hailed as one of a kind with numerous awards and recognition, globally. Here, in an inspiring interview, we chat with her to find out what makes her the artist she is and what art really means to her! With answers on her Kashmiri heritage and much wisdom to impart to budding artists, this is one interview you do not want to miss!
What do you do? What drives you ? What is your vision ?
I am an Indian Artist born in Kashmir. I predominantly work in the medium of murals and installations most of which are large scale projects. I have completed more than 800 murals worldwide. Art to me is more than the perception of beauty, and the intention of the creator, it is about interpretation. . I get inspired by life, have always said it and still think that life is a learning process and our experiences both good and bad are a part it. Travel is a big part of my life I have absorbed with my eyes and try to incorporate colour and texture to my medium that I am working with. The one phenomenon that is a constant in life is “change”, I always change my theme and medium during work, I cannot repeat as I get bored. Even now if I have an idea of form that I wish to create, I would start instantly without any delay even if its mid night my friends think its eccentric but if I wasn’t I wouldn’t be able to create. I run a NGO Rouble Nagi Art Foundation, which I have been working for since 2010. I love spending time with children, and running my art camps and balwadi’s for them.
If you were to reflect upon your career, what would be some of the most defining moments that have shaped your professional journey?
As someone rightly said “Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.” Ever since I remember, my art work I often did for satisfying myself. As an artist one must create with freedom, and with what you visualize but for survival and money every artist customizes as per the clients requirements. I consider myself very lucky that I have always created as per me, my clients have all been such excellent people who have appreciated and given inputs during design phase. I frankly have lost count of how many projects I have done over the years, but whatever I have done at that moment has been my first piece, every art work I do I give it my best and treat it like my first piece ever. You learn something every day if you just pay attention, the journey through life is just a long learning experience and without a destination, it’s the journey that matters and I am loving it.
Who are your mentors? How have they helped you?
I think mentors are important, they are inspiring. Well for me I have to say their were many I admired and spoke to for advice. M.F Hussain being one of them, countess numbers of coffees and hours of conversation on different subjects. Then there was my father who was an army officer, to be honest you don’t need a person with great achievements to be your mentor . Most of all, a mentor doesn’t need to be extraordinary in any way, just an individual willing to commit to spending time with you. I’ve always felt its about the person not their position that can make a difference in your life. I’ve been very blessed to have had mentors that are incredibly honest and transparent and are quality leaders, and I think it has really helped shape who I am as a person. I absolutely attribute a lot of my success to being in a position where I had a lot of great mentors, people I could go to and ask for advice.
If you were to give your 18 year old self some advice, what would it be?
If you don’t plan on finishing, don’t start. I have started countless projects when I was in my early twenties, but could only finished a handful. There is nothing that wastes more time than starting something that never gets finished. If it doesn’t ever come to fruition then it never should have been started. It was a waste of time and energy. Pursue your dream and see if you can create something of great value both to yourself and others. Never make the mistake of making money your highest priority, choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life. Spend as much as time with your parents, In their lifetime, every action of theirs speaks of nothing but our betterment and our empowerment. Respect your parents, and love them with everything possible, because, no matter how far we come, our parents are always in us, and they are the only God who has ever answered us, or ever will.
What is the next big personal/professional ambition/target for you?
I have been working on setting up an Art school for underprivileged children. I believe that everything you do today will be reflect in the future. I want RNAF (Rouble Nagi Art Foundation) in smaller villages in India. I have started and seen my NGO grow, I am happy people are aware now. 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 sponsor children education, help artists showcase their work who cannot afford to do so. There are eight art camps that are slated to happen this year including Kashmir.
What advice would you like to give to students and young professionals?
Its all about being patient, the talent I see around is astonishing. 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.