A Rishi who Paints - Saurav Rishi


When you mention painting or art the image that springs to the mind is a canvas upon an easel, with a landscape scene done in bright hues, with a lot of intricate details packed into it. With almost everything becoming digital, including art; the appreciation of fine art, at the risk of sounding snobbish has become a niche. There are few people who would truly appreciate it, while most people would saunter by, asses it for a second or two and then move on to the next one.

But what happens when the subject is something or rather someone whom you would see regularly on the TV, or in your newsfeed? And what if it is done using the humblest and simplest of tools? Then the accessibility of that piece of art increases manifold. The tool in question is the pencil and the artist in question is Saurav Rishi, from Assam.

Saurav has been drawing since he was six years old, then deciding to hone his skills professionally; was enrolled in a private art school, where he spent ten years learning. After completing 12th standard, he was drawn towards realism. This prompted him to start doing some research of his own upon the subject, and he started going through the portfolios of numerous artists on Instagram. His influences range from Michelangelo to contemporary pencil artist Alexander Donchenko; whom he holds in high regard.

Though his Instagram is filled intricate and careful sketches using pencils, his affinity for realism has also led him to explore other mediums, such as acrylics and pastels; which he taught himself. Even there he has made his mark, for his paintings have a level of realism that can be rivaled only by a photograph. His first acrylic painting was of the Buddha, done in monochrome and spread out over three panels stacked horizontally. He has also painted the wheel of the Sun Temple’s chariot, in color with a similar amount of startling detail. This painting took him 18 months to complete, and it was sold almost immediately at his second exhibition.

One painting takes a fiercely individualistic stand among his works. It is a painting or to use his words a ‘pattachitra’ that depicts a scene from the Ramayana, namely the origin of one of its main characters, Hanuman. Saurav has also opted to paint this on a cloth based scroll instead of using the traditional canvas, and he has also used earth-based colors embellishing the painting with a vibe that it both epic and grounded in tradition. “Some said that art is only for 5% and not 95% of the population, I intend to change that.”

Of late he has taken to sketching and painting models from photographs. He also encourages and challenges fellow artists online using the #drawinyourstyle challenge; and as the name of the challenge suggests, the artist would have to paint a subject of Saurav’s choosing in their own style. It is currently in its sixth iteration. On an average Saurav spends anywhere between 4-9 hours a day working on his art. “The sketches usually take around 2 hours to complete, while the paintings take a week to complete” As of now Saurav has participated in two exhibitions. “I was reluctant to participate in my first exhibition, it took some goading on part of my teacher to convince me” But in the end it was a gamble that paid off, as he was received favorably, prompting him to exhibit once more.

Apart from painting and sketching, Saurav also teaches at the art school where he learnt. His pupils range from three year olds to thirty year olds. He prefers to teach by appreciating his students, “I start with something positive, and then point out any mistakes they might have made and then end with some positive remarks. It keeps them motivated, while also helping them to improve.” He tells me that he was initially skeptical about teaching but decided to take it up after the encouragement of his friends and family.

 Though it seems that Saurav has a penchant for teaching it is not something that he does full time. Armed with a bachelor’s degree in commerce, he is currently interning at an accounting firm.  “Study the fundamentals of art and combine it with hours of practice.” He adds that it is essential to pick your influences, or to use his words, an ‘art-parent’ according to your taste and style. To quote Oscar Wilde, “Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.” But one look at Saurav Rishi’s art is enough for anyone to know that this Rishi, has a long and glorious future in the world of art.    

You can check out Saurav Rishi's art works on his Instagram handle @rishinotsaint


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