P Bala Bhakta Raju, an artist from Hyderabad, has a house-full of Ganesha paintings, drawings & sculptures. An artist by profession & Ganeshist by devotion, Bala Bhakta Raju, dreams to draw one lakh Ganesha paintings. He made the count 1,450 till date in different media and hungry to make it 1 lakh.
As Bala Bhakta Raju expresses his views with Neeraja Murthy of The Hindu:
“I have been drawing Ganesha since I was a kid. As a professional artist I began seven years ago. Many artists start painting Ganeshas as a good omen but do not sustain after one or two years. They drift away and explore other themes. I have stayed with Ganeshas. It’s only recently that I have decided to paint a new theme but I have not left my friend Ganesha,” says Bala Bhakta softly.
His friendship with Lord Ganesha began while studying in a government school in Seetaphalmandi. “Vinayaka Chavithi was the busiest season for us kids. We would go around the colony with a chanda book and collect money from the other colony members. With the money collected we would install a small Ganesha and offer our prayers. As we grew tall, the height of Ganeshas also went up,” he says.
After completing a BFA from Mysore, Bala Bhakta worked in advertising companies and while working in a jewellery store in Begumpet, he made drishti Ganeshas to be given away as gifts to the customers. He had worked for 15 years when he decided to become a full-time artist. “The best thing about drawing Lord Ganesha is that one can never go wrong with the shape. Some artists who do not create a distinct figure draw some lines to create a pot-bellied structure and call it an abstract Ganesha. The god is quite accommodative,” he says with a laugh.
“I paint when I want to paint. I don’t make it like a compulsion,” he says.
He explains, “The concept is about love which is God’s gift to couples. I have tried to depict the abiding faith men and women have in each other – in absence and in togetherness.” The artist says he feels humbled when he sees his paintings occupy pride of place in the living rooms of art lovers. Now, when people commission a painting, he says, they ask for a size that suits their drawing rooms and not their puja rooms. “What more can an artist ask?”
Bala Bhakta Raju is gearing up for his solo exhibition at Art Café in Taj Krishna, Hyderabad.
“Every year during Vinayaka Chavithi, I have a display of my works. This exhibition will have 30 works of Ganesha and will be held from August 30 to September 15,” he says.
Mr Bala Bhakata Raju has his own website displaying his paintings, drawings & other hobbies – – mainly Ganeshas.