New stroke of life

Published Nov 7, 2014, 5:01 am IST
Updated Mar 30, 2019, 4:11 pm IST
Son of a coalminer who pursued his passion for the arts despite facing extreme poverty, N. Parsharamulu is making a mark in the art scene
Hyderabad: Not every painter’s debut exhibition gets so much attention and appreciation as N. Parsharamulu’s work has. Undeniably, his first solo exhibition in Mumbai comprising acrylic on canvas figures titled Itself has caused a quiet ripple at the surface of the coterie of contemporary art in India.
“His work draws inspiration from some of the best painters living or legend, yet he has created a unique language of his own, which stands out among the rest,” says Delhi-based artist Shine Shivan. His paintings have been compared to the works of Francis Bacon, Tyeb Mehta, Ramachandran and Berlinde De Bruyckere, a giant feat for a debutant. 
Born in a small village in Karimnagar, Parsharamulu had taken up painting much like everybody else but in Class VIII he found his calling for the fine arts. “I remember as a kid I was enchanted by the lighting and the reflection in Raja Ravi Verma’s A Lady in the Moonlight, which I tried to copy from the postcard,” he recalls. Soon after completing his school he started apprenticing under an artist who earned his bread by painting portraits on requests. 
Only after completing his Bachelors of Applied Arts from JNTU College of Fine Arts, Hyderabad, Parsharamulu started asking himself, “‘What is art?’ I realised that after four years of BFA I have learnt how to paint but I don’t know what to paint.”
But his artistic quest was never quite easy. “Having born in a lower-middle class family is always going to be a hindrance, but I think an artist needs to pursue his passion irrespective of his background.” Parsharamulu’s father worked in the coalmines of Karimnagar. “I am the eldest in my family and naturally my parents were never quite happy to know that I am not going to live a life that they had wished.”
Parsharamulu stays alone in a rented room in Adarshnagar, about 250 km away from his family. “Being an artist is a solitary task. Many a time my folks took me to be a lunatic since I kept staring out of the window for hours,” says the 34-year-old.
Abhay Muskara, founder of Muskara Art Gallery, where Parsharamulu’s work is being exhibited in Mumbai was flummoxed to find the artist in his squalor. “When I went to Hyderabad, I had asked him to come and meet me at the airport, to which he denied saying that he didn’t have money to come. So eventually I end up going to his room. He didn’t even have materials to work with.”
Through all these years Parsharamulu has been trying to forge his own territory and now he seems to have done it. “There were many a times when I had to remain without food, those were the times when one could lose the conviction and ask questions like: ‘Did I make the right choice of becoming an artist?’ I kept working more instead of wasting time,” he asserts.