Artist Hutansh Verma is saluting the men who were killed in action — one stroke at a time
Art has the power to heal. Self-taught artist Hutansh Verma illustrates the thought through his work. The 26-year-old makes portraits of Indian soldiers killed in action, and gifts them to their families. As part of his initiative Portraits of Patriots, over 30 portraits have reached these families. Verma is working to complete the 90 portraits which have been requested by the families. Of the 90 requests, he has completed 65 portraits.
“The latest portrait that I’ve made is of Captain Pawan Kumar, who was killed leading an operation in Jammu and Kashmir,” says Verma, adding, “Creating his portrait was the hardest, since he was younger to me and could have chosen a life of comfort. But, he chose to serve the nation.” Verma says that the creative process of 24-40 hours includes selecting photographs to create the portraits and is heart wrenching.
He says, “It’s important that I get their features and expressions right. So I choose a few photographs, in consultation with their families, and then I start the sketch. When I went to Captain Pawan Kumar’s house, his mother started crying.Tears welled up in my eyes, too.”
Encouraged by his father, Verma started making these portraits in 2014. “This endevaour was my father’s suggestion. The first portrait I made was of Captain Vijayant Thapar, after I did my research on the Kargil War (1999). When my father saw it, he asked me to get in touch with his family. And when I did, his family told me that it was like seeing their son in person. Later, I contacted the Army Headquarter, who wanted me to come in September, however, my visit got postponed to October. Unfortunately, during that period, I lost my father,” he says.
The Indian Army has been a pillar of support for Verma. “After viewing my portraits, I got a call from the Army Headquarters. Some of my portraits were displayed at the Manek Shaw Centre on Army Day. Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat recognised me at this do.. he saw me and said, ‘You must be Hutansh’. What’s more honourable than this!” he smiles.