Shri Ram Gohri ji is a retired art teacher. Although he never really retired. Even after almost five decades of teaching art, he continues to mould young minds, helping them connect with their inner self. Most people know him from St Thomas School, Mandir Marg, Delhi. He still handles the paper recycling plant at the school that he set up and maintained in the first place. He is a very soft-spoken, humble person who might be a man of few words but his real worth can be seen in his art and the art of all those he has inspired. Here is his interview:
Ashish: What is the story behind you becoming an artist?
Shri Ram Gohri (SRG): From childhood, I was very interested in art. I belong to a goldsmith’s family. I used to design leaves and flowers as designs. My father used to inspire me to draw as much as possible. I am from Rajasthan. Since my childhood, I used to see the villages create ‘mandanas’, which involved decorating their houses, platforms, and walls. I used to observe. Therefore, art came naturally to me. These were the two things that inspired me to design and draw.
Ashish: What inspires you to put your energy into art?
SRG: I want to create new things using new mediums. I have already created so many works. There are so many new mediums and techniques. I like to incorporate them into my art.
Ashish: What materials do you use in your paintings?
SRG: I use the paper pulp and recycled paper, that I usually create myself.
Ashish: How have you evolved as an artist? How would you describe your journey so far?
SRG: My art has evolved since I was in JJ School of Art. I used to create portraits – life studies with oils. We used to paint compositions on canvas. With time, my expression has kept on changing. My preference of colours and materials keeps on changing.
Ashish: Who is/are your favourite artist(s)? And why?
SRG: Salvador Dali, Van Gogh. But Picasso is my favourite. He inspires me the most.
Ashish: As an artist, what do you think needs to be done in order to reach out to more people?
SRG: We have to reach out to the public, explain things to them. A common person does not know about museums. More awareness has to be created among the masses. Our traditional art is wonderful. Every state has their arts and crafts, which are easier for the public to understand.
Ashish: What differences do you find in the audience of India and abroad?
SRG: Lots of differences. In India, we do not have so much awareness. So many parents abroad bring their children to museums and they will explain things to them. Children start to understand as well. There is so much more awareness. In India, even mature people do not have awareness. Only the professionals like artists understand art.
Ashish: Is art limited to some classes in India? If so, what are the reasons behind it?
SRG: Yes. It is limited to those people who are in this profession – artists and art galleries. A special type of group but not for the layman. Now even art critics are limited. No regular space is given to reviews as such.
Ashish: How do you see the economics of art in India?
SRG: It all depends on art galleries. Artists make paintings. There is no proper system in place for selling. Not everybody can afford to do solo shows.