Expressing emotions through art: Rise of a star

Autism hasn’t reined in the artist inside 24-year-old Rupak

Published: 02nd April 2021 03:33 AM  |   Last Updated: 02nd April 2021 03:33 AM   |  A+A-

Rupak Munje has won recognition worldwide for his art | Martin Louis

Express News Service

CHENNAI: “He’s not autistic but artistic,” says Rajendra Munje, proud father of 24-year-old Rupak Munje, who cannot speak but can express myriad emotions with his prolific artwork.  Born in Hyderabad in 1996, Rupak Munje’s exhibited typical behaviour till he was around two and a half years old, but drastic changes in his body language made his family seek medical help. It was not long before he was diagnosed with autism. Rajendra Munje, himself an artist, recalls: “His childhood was challenging because he was non-verbal and hyperactive at the same time.”

In 2000, Rajendra Munje, who worked in an advertising agency, moved to Chennai and started looking for the right learning centre for Rupak. “After trying out a few places, Rupak started enjoying WeCAN where he grew holistically and also became a star performer. Rupak graduated from WeCAN in 2018. Since then, he has been moulded by CanBridge Academy, Chennai,” he told Express. 

Talking about finding the right school for his son, Rajendra says that the process was tedious and important since every child with ASD (autism spectrum disorder) has specific needs. When Rupak was a student at WeCAN, he took part in a year-long art therapy programme conducted by an American art therapist. Rajendra says that this therapy helped him recognise his aptitude and passion for art. Within a year, Rupak held his first solo show at Forum Art Gallery, Adyar, with over 50 works on display.

Rising star
In 2018, Rupak’s painting was selected for exhibition by the Kochi Biennale Foundation. Rupak was honoured with an Art Camp memento the same year by the Chennai Rail Museum. Neither Covid-19 nor lockdown was able to rein in the artist inside Rupak. He was one of the winners of the ‘STIR UP 2020’ international competition and was selected by the Geneva Centre for Autism’s International Virtual Symposium-2020. India’s biggest online art contest, ORA 2020, too honoured Rupak with the Rising Star Award.

On what the future holds for this talented youngster, Rajendra said, “It all started with one question — what will Rupak do in the future? And things automatically started unfolding through his paintings. Even though he can’t speak, his paintings convey different messages to those viewing them, much like poetry.” He added that Rupak has made them proud as his paintings are being shared worldwide. “Rupak’s future looks as bright as his paintings,” Rajendra said. 


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