Moti Zharotia does not require an introduction. His works are on display at the “Desi Canvas” under the theme “I.M.Print”. I conducted his interview over email, in order to find out about his journey so far, and his views on art and artists. Some inspiring thoughts emerged from the conversation.
Ashish: What is the story behind you becoming an artist?
Moti Zharotia (MZ): Well, there is no story as such; I believe that life has been an enriching experience for me, full of vivid situations and conditions. I was born and brought up in a very simple and not-so-financially-sound family. I was the youngest child at home and could comprehend my family’s conditions well enough. I always wanted to work early so that I could assist my parents in some way, more or less. Ultimately, one thing which became very clear to me was that whatever I would do, that work would not be inspired by materialistic urges, but rather by my creative instincts, which were god-gifted to me.
Ashish: What inspires you to put your energy into art?
MZ: Art itself inspires me and gives me inner peace. Since childhood, I was a seeker and a peaceful person and art filled me with inner peace. My drawing teacher in school was very happy with me as he liked my sketches and drawings. He used to encourage me a lot to concentrate on my creative talent. This made me enthusiastic to explore art and its horizons. I had a different curiosity in me to see the impression of designs on paper. So, I used to make small designs on a potato and then make its impression on a paper. Art is a creation and I began to love what I was creating. It filled me with immense joy and contentment and this is how art became a part of my being and life.
Ashish: What materials do you use in your paintings?
MZ: My forte has been silk screen printing and a variety of colours, tools and screens are used in this art. Profoundly, I make use of PVC inks, which are chemical based inks. These inks are diluted by a reducer and should be protected from extreme temperature. Screen-printing is a full-fledged procedure that involves different stages but the final work is worth seeing.
Ashish: How have you evolved as an artist? (your journey so far)
MZ: I was born in the year 1953. After completing my higher secondary education, I was fated to begin my journey in the creative arts and religiously pursued my graduation in graphics and paintings from the Delhi College of Arts, Delhi University, 1979. You would be surprised to know that I had a dream to become a lawyer at first and with this notion in mind, I graduated in Political Science (honours) from Delhi University. However, as I said, I was destined to become an artist, so I ended up doing graduation twice, first in humanities and the second time in arts. After successfully completing my graduation in fine arts, it was an initiation of a new odyssey for me.
I received the appointment letter to join at NIOS, Delhi, as a graphic officer. This career bestowed me with authority, eminence, and a rich experience; I gracefully completed my official tenure as an assistant director in the year 2012. I was fully occupied in administrative work but I somehow managed to pursue my art. I continued doing silk screen printing and extensively participated in national and international exhibitions. By the grace of God, I received many accolades, awards and scholarships. Besides art, I also love writing poems. I have been writing for the last 30 years and have been lucky to get those poems published in the year 2015, in my maiden poetry book with the title “Kacche Dhaage”. I have contributed many of my poems in different poem anthologies as well. For me, writing and art are both integral parts of life, and they are interconnected since both are expressions of my mind and soul. Presently, I am amply involved in exploring, experimenting and creating fresh silk screen printing works.
Ashish: Who is/are your favourite artist(s)? And why?
MZ: Honestly speaking, I am an admirer of every artist because I believe each artist is unique and has something unconventional to show to the world. To name a favourite artist is difficult for me. I adore the beauty of art. Every artist puts their creativity in their artwork and that itself is so beautiful to know and see. I do not judge art and do not indulge in favouritism. I just love art and fondly appreciate all the artists.
Ashish: As an artist, what do you think needs to be done in order to reach out to more people?
MZ: That’s a very good question you have put. An artist, for obvious reasons, wants their work to be exposed and acknowledged. They wish that their work reaches out to the masses, which is really encouraging. We are now living in a fast-forward world. Everything is so easily approachable. People are building their connections and networks. Earlier, it was little difficult to get exposure as people were less aware, but now exposure is widely given by social media, which I feel is immensely helpful. Just see, this interview is also going to reach so many readers, which is a good exposure for an artist like me. One more thing I firmly believe the masses should be made aware of is that art is not only limited to a few classes. Rather, art is an expression of one’s feelings. Even artists are game changers. With their artwork, they can bring change in the minds of people. Art has the ability to transform one’s thoughts and feelings and that is why art should be brought out in front of everyone. Exhibitions of artworks should be increased in numbers.
Ashish: What differences do you find in the audience of India and abroad?
MZ: In my opinion, Indian audiences take little interest in art and the audience is small. It can also be put a little differently. The Indian audience for art is limited to selected classes of people who admire it. Whereas, during my international exhibitions abroad, I observed that audiences were very keen and admired all types of art. They felt amused to see the profound expressions of an artist and showed their interests to know what made the artist create such an artwork. I feel art resides in everyone, but in India, generally, the focus of people is rather more fixed on fulfilling one’s basic needs. Here, people do not consider art as a medium of communication and change in society. Its admiration is only limited to select classes. Nevertheless, I respect and welcome all the audiences and the viewers.
Ashish: Is art limited to some classes in India? if so, what are the reasons behind it?
MZ: Yes, it is limited to only some classes as I have already mentioned. Reason behind this, in my opinion, is the Indian mentality that is restricted to earning livelihood and survival. In India, more than half of the population is struggling with basic life issues and social issues. There is so much of poverty and unemployment. How can one expect such a group of people to look into what art is? They would be least bothered to know and admire art. But I wish people do change this thinking towards art.
Ashish: How do you see the economics of art in India?
MZ: I feel the economics of art has been underestimated in India. Artists do feel a scarcity of funding and financial assistance. As the new generation is also joining in, the number of scholarships must be increased. It will work as a booster. I believe that the economics of art in India has become better. Promotion, exposure, scholarships are also being given. All we need to focus on is that art does not remain limited to only rich people. Art is for all. An artist is never biased towards any group of audience.