BANGALORE: If art aficionados were to delve deeper into the minds of any artist, they would discover a world that has a splash of colours, with ideas pouring in and out. But for this artist, whose reality is different from the rest of the world, art takes on a different shape, in the form of beautiful designs and colours, with an image that is unique and distinctive.
56-year-old, Rajiv Sardana, an artist battling schizophrenia for the last 20 years, not only makes portraits of his favourite actors like Marlon Brando and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, but also believes that faces and pictures in his mind, speak volumes about his normalcy.
While schizophrenia is a mental illness where patients usually suffer a decline in their functioning level, ending up losing their skills and concentration - for Rajiv, it is the mental illness that brought out a different side of his talent.
As per World Health Organisation, there are about 8.7 million schizophrenics in India and reports also indicate that the country has less than 8 per cent tolerance for those who are mentally
challenged. With these statistics, it is but baffling that Bangalore has hosted artists and creative talent that are like none other and most of them from the mentally challenged background.
An architect by profession, Rajiv Sardana has a huge collection of pencil sketches of his mother Rajkumari, personalities like Mother Teresa, M F Hussain, Sathish Gujaral, one of the pioneers of contemporary Indian art and other portraits of his family members. After having hosted his sketches at art galleries in Mumbai and Gurgaon, he hosted his first show at Bangalore.
City Express caught up with this unique artist and he narrated his story to us. “I take about 3-4 hours to complete a sketch and need a particular ambience to do so. I use pencils over a plain sheet of paper and usually prefer to keep the image on my left side while drawing,” he said.
He further explained that it is at the Medico Pastoral Association (MPA) that he finds peace. “I spend some good time with my other inmates at the extended care unit of the MPA,” he said. It is here that patients like Rajiv are given long-term support and rehabilitation to help them cope up with their illness. Although he spends most of his life at the MPA now, unlike many other schizophrenics, Rajiv is in constant touch with his family.
His sister Rita Seth, based at Gurgaon explained, “Rajiv was fond of pencil sketches right from his school days. He has been under medication for the past 20 years. At MPA he is provided assistance to promote and maintain recovery and improve the quality of life. He is getting well day-by-day and our father, Om Prasad and me are eagerly awaiting his return back home,” said Rita Seth.
Even as doctors across the world are trying to find a medicines or treatments that would keep the illness from recurring, people like Rajiv are trying hard to recover by taking seeking support and solace in art and other similar creative routes.