Srinagar: Daughter of the soil, internationally acclaimed artist Rouble Nagi has created a mural under the theme Hashtag Kashmir to promote the “heaven of earth”.
Born in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district, Nagi has created the mural on the banks of River Jhelum at Rajbagh area here.
Based in Mumbai, she has done over 800 murals worldwide creating a niche for herself in the field of Arts.
“As Jammu and Kashmir is my home state, I would like art to be accessible to all. Art cannot be just for the select few restricted to private collections and museums. I want the Kashmiri people to be exposed to public art and benefit from it,” Nagi told Greater Kashmir. “I see a lot of potential for public art in Kashmir and hopefully this is just one of many upcoming future installations in the Valley.”
She says that the colours used in the sculpture are inspired by Kashmir’s landscape along with the seasons.
“The abstract theme is a depiction of the vast cultural and ethnic diversity of Kashmir intertwined with each other, and painting it with positive strokes. Each alphabet has been specifically designed to create a rhythm of significant colours. Hashtag Kashmir sculpture is an iconic installation for the city, while creating a selfie point for the youth and tourists,” she says.
Nagi, 42, has done B.A. Political Science and studied Fine Art at Slade School of Fine Art and European Art in London.
“But I like art and colours from my childhood,” she says.
She has organised over 150 exhibitions so far and believes that to create something beautiful, inspiration comes from life.
“Kashmir is blessed with natural beauty and its mountains, lakes and sky look like an art, rather like paradise. It is a treat for the eyes,” she says.
Elaborating, Nagi said that as an artist she feels that hashtag in the internet era was really a movement.
She exudes hope that the hashtag would inspire action and serve as a springboard that people could use to launch themselves from online conversation to real-world action.
Hashtag happens to be the most used symbol online today.
“The hashtag has become a symbol of empowerment. It creates an opportunity for sustained engagement and makes sure that governmental organisations know it and inspire further action. Hashtags have become a standard in online communication, and have emerged as a way to identify content on social media and evolved into an entire experience of sub peak,” she says.
Nagi has been using 38 different mediums including ceramic, glass, tiles, mosaics, brass, copper, aluminum sheets, rough stones, marbles, and fibre-reinforced plastic in her unique artwork.
“Sculptures and public art in particular are great for tourism and city marketing, and can forge strong relationships within and between communities. A city that’s vibrant and thriving will always have art at its centre,” she says. “I am the daughter of the soil. The mural is a gift from me to my city Srinagar. We hope after this we will have more murals in the city. Kashmir is already known across the continent due to its beauty but a lot of infrastructure development is happening. My focus being an artist and social worker is to promote creativity and provide global concepts.”
Nagi has been working in Kashmir since 2014 doing humanitarian works post devastating floods.
“I started Mumbai beautification 12 years back and then made murals across the country. So, I thought, ‘Why not Kashmir.’ It is a proud moment for me,” she says. “Art is not only for museums to be in or to be put in homes of rich people. It should be interactive and accessible to everybody. Public art gives a feeling of belongingness and brings that aesthetic sense and value to your entire surroundings. Public art and meaningful art for a city is important. It not only brings the beauty of the place out but connects people. If we do anything with creativity it enhances the result.”
Nagi is also a sculptor and the tagline of her foundation is educating through art creativity with learning.
She has also authored a book ‘The Slum Queen’.
The book encompasses the author’s transformative journey as an artist and social worker and her dedication to the betterment of the lives of the underprivileged.
Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha unveiled her book last year and commended the efforts of Nagi and her art foundation for empowering women, creating job opportunities for youth, and ensuring children’s education.
The LG also appreciated the work being done by them in Baramulla and Kupwara districts of J&K.
She has dedicated a chapter ‘Badalta Kashmir’ in her book.
Nagi has designed a special initiative for children in Kashmir to learn art and language of colours.
She said Rouble Nagi Art Foundation (RNAF) had repaired and painted around 1.5 lakh houses so far and as of today her team was working in 163 slums and villages in other parts of the country.
“I am the first woman artist to exhibit at the Rashtrapati Bhavan Museum in 2017. My work was also selected by the President for the Rashtrapati Bhavan Museum,” Nagi says.
She is the recipient of prestigious awards for her works including Jijamatamata Award for Social work and Art from Government of India, 2013, GR8 Award for Art, 2013, best women artist of the year, Sety Young Achievers Award for Art, 2013, Young Environmentalists Trust Women Achievers Award, and IFEFA Awards Australia for Social and Philanthropic Work
Her latest initiative Misaal Mumbai is the first slum transformation initiative in India via art.
“The main aim is to connect to people through art and bring a positive change in their mindset. The idea is educating through art about the importance of children education, empowering women, creating job opportunities for the youth, cleanliness, hygiene, sanitation, waste management - say no to plastic and children's health in slums and villages,” she says.
Nagi has painted and repaired more than 1,50,000 homes and is currently working in over 163 slums and villages across India.
Prominent hotels, corporates, celebrities, government departments, and museums collect her paintings.
Famous Bollywood star Shahrukh Khan inaugurated Nagi's sculpture in Bandra in 2017.
“In my country whenever people encounter difficulty they seek out many ways to overcome it. It is this same powerful imagination that is driving the country and its people to look forward to a better future. This is the kind of emotion I bring to my canvas or mural,” she says.