HYDERABAD: It is another canvas. There is a man who has parked his vehicle and is looking at the sky, two women clad in burkas walking towards you, there is an ice-cream bandi and a playful child – all this on the road, against the back drop of Golconda Fort. “This little kid was the most distractive one in the lot,” points out Royden Gibbs, an artist from Sri Lanka, who is in the city to capture Incredible India.
Sponsored by the organisation Aide et Action International, South Asia, Royden’s plan in the country is still undefined and he is highly excited about it. “My wife calls me from home time-to-time asking me when I’ll come back. But I don’t have an answer,” he laughs and on a more serious note explains why, “India is such a vibrant country. My aim is to capture as much as I can and take it back home and promote it in Sri Lanka. People back home are mostly into Buddhism and I’m sure they would be interested in knowing more about other cultures.”
Specialising in water colours and pen and ink, the artist who is now in his late-sixties is a stickler for details. His canvasses have a lot of underlying elements incorporated into them. One such is the mortuary bath at the Qutb Shahi tombs that he just finished in pen and ink. “These things fascinate me,” he beams showing us the canvas that has a footnote too. “How they must have carried out the whole process is fascinating,” adding that this also gives him an opportunity to do some research and detailed studies on a particular thing. “This gives a chance for people from one part of the world to see what is happening elsewhere,” he opines.
For the artist who started painting at a very young age, he feels that he has been fortunate. “I started off doing portraits when I initially went to arts school. My master was impressed with me and asked me to enter into contests that won me prizes. I have learnt a lot from him. I was curious, always asking him questions,” he recalls.
Royden later entered advertising. “It was relatively new 50 years ago,” he says. Treading the same path, he went on to become an art director. Today apart from painting, he teaches art to people of all age groups. “People just give me a call ask me if I’m free and come home for classes. A lot of my students also join me when I’m travelling in pursuit of finding something interesting to bring on to my canvas,” he shares.
He also strongly feels that art forms of all kinds, across the world are highly under-rated.
“ No one looks at arts seriously. I’m glad that people want their children to pursue higher studiues and become doctors and lawyers. But what they don’t realise is art as a subject has everything under its umbrella,” he says pointing out to simple geometry and logical thinking. “You name anything and it is there,” he explains adding that this is a good base to introduce children to a field of study. “In the course of time, you never know what triggers a child and pursuing that could make them experts in particular fields,” he says.
Art is a form of language that transcends boundaries according to Royden. “You pick up a painting and anyone from any part of the world can understand what it says. You are imparting knowledge,” he stresses.
Royden also brings attention to the fact that any field of art is lucrative. “Countries cash on tourism and when someone comes to see a place, they don’t come to meet the doctors and lawyers but they are interested in the history, people, its art forms – like culture and dance,” he explains.
The artist is very impressed by the South Indian dance form Bharatnatyam. “I know very little about it, but I used to follow it even at home. I just get glued to it. It is very easy and artistic on the eye and I am amazed by the honesty of the art,” he gleams, informing us that it is one trait that keeps him going as an artist. “One must be honest and must know where they are headed to. That is because I believe that one has to be true to oneself in order to move forward in the course. One must have an identity,” he shares.
For one who thinks that anything and anyone can be an inspiration, he says, “Art is a work of 100 per cent love, coupled with honesty. If you can’t be honest, you cannot love anything,” he signs off with a twinkle in his eye.