“The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep.”
Poet Robert Frost’s words immediately spring to mind as you let your eyes wash over Rahul Dhiman’s intricate graphic prints. Dhiman’s first solo exhibition, ‘Kalayatra - a journey of graphic prints’, opened on Thursday at the Government Museum and Art Gallery, Sector 10, in Chandigarh. He is a student of the Government College of Art, Sector 10, and graduated with masters of fine arts (MFA) in graphic printmaking in 2014.
For Dhiman, the inevitability of life is his true calling; it is visible in utmost detail and with great clarity in his art. As he says, “Artists are inspired by their surroundings, and it is true even in my case. What you see here is my life, my dreams, my aspirations, everything. In short, it comes together to mark my journey so far.”
A resident of Ambala, Rahul’s artistic journey has been nothing short of commendable. At the age of 23, he has made a name for himself, so much so that he is recognised by his work all over the tricity. “Whenever someone comes across graphic prints of trains and tracks, they know it’s me. It is an honour to be recognised by your work which I’ve so patiently put together. I’m happy that people identify with my work,” says Rahul. Simple and forthright, Rahul, according to his teachers, who were present at the inauguration of his exhibition, is the first student who wanted his parents to inaugurate his first solo show and honoured his teachers from college. “I owe everything to my parents and teachers. Everything that I am today is because of their belief in me. Most parents want their kids to be engineers or doctors, but my parents encouraged me to follow my dreams from day one,” says Rahul.
Trains and tracks
Imagination is one thing, but when an artist couples it with his very existence, it becomes highly personal and intimate. His near-obsession with trains and tracks exude the very essence of where he comes from and belongs to. The earthiness in his work makes one believe that here is a man who knows the trials and tribulations of life, the daily struggles of the common man and yet has the motivation to go that extra mile and think beyond his limits.
His work is mainly inspired by his daily commute from home to college and back. Rahul would board a local train from Ambala to Chandigarh and then cycle his way to college from the station. Be it the numerous faces he came across or the scenery flashing by on his daily train journeys, all of it resonates in his work in painstaking detail. Another very interesting and recurring feature in his prints is railway tracks, carriages, sign boards and his bicycle (the common man’s symbol of daily struggle, according to the artist). As one looks at his prints featuring tracks, one is almost reminded of the undulating way railway tracks seem to merge and diverge when you look out the window of a moving train.
Dreams and desires
A recipient of the ‘Sohan Qadari’ scholarship sponsored by the Chandigarh Lalit Kala Akademi, and numerous other national and college level awards, Rahul has assimilated his daily travels into his art seamlessly. Be it the silhouette of a face looking out of a train’s window in ‘Daily route’ or the mesmerising track tree in ‘When track meets nature’, Rahul’s voice echoes from every print, sharing his experiences of his journey from a regular college boy to an aspiring artist. When asked about his future plans, Rahul quips, “I have my plans, my dreams. And this is my first step towards achieving those dreams.”
He points towards another print titled ‘Unlimited dreams’ which shows a young man sitting and waiting for a train, his mind consumed by his thoughts and desires, waiting perhaps to reach out to the moon and stars.