Raghava KK first got interested in drawing thanks to his physics class. To seek respite from the boring theorems, he started drawing caricatures of his teacher. While this didn’t go down too well with her, it made him an instant favourite among his peers. Over a period of time, the youngster realised that cartoon uses humour as a tool to talk about the difficult things in life. Gradually he started working in genres as disparate as iPad Art, interactive art, painting, movies and installation.
Two years ago he decided to merge cartoons, history and memetics (images, sayings, or ideas which can change and evolve in multiple forms through social networking and other mediums) in a new exhibition titled That’s All Folks! This exhibition, which is currently on display in the city, features 10 paintings and 10 sketches featuring Subhash Chandra Bose, Mahatma Gandhi juxtaposed with Batman and Spiderman along with Daffy Duck and other cartoon characters. Raghava admits that his wife is his main inspiration for this work. “My wife is a history teacher. While in schools, we were taught this subject as mere facts without any perspective; my wife retells history through art in her class. She urges her students to separate facts from bias and explores the subjects as a creative exercise.”
Raghava says, “This exhibition chronicles the past and the present. The cartoons denote the past and the historical figures denote the present and are an ode to my wife.” The artist, who has used acrylic extensively in this collection, confesses that the biggest hurdle was to ensure that he seamlessly integrates history and cartoons in his works. “I didn’t want them to look trivial. I had to merge them aesthetically and conceptually,” he adds.
Raghava, who currently works between New York and Bangalore, was named a National Geographic Emerging Explorer for using art as a tool of exploration earlier this year. He is a five time main-stage TED Speaker and has lectured at several art institutions and universities, including New York, Kellogg, Carnegie Mellon, the New Hampshire Institute of Art and the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in France. He attributes his hunger for learning different mediums to the fact that art knows no languages and barriers. “The content should never be defined by the medium. Before starting any work, I always ask myself what will be the best language to say this? I believe humour is a tool of self-reflection.” Raghava, who is currently learning programming, aims to have a futuristic exhibition in the near future. “The paintings will be designed in such a way that when a viewer looks at them, they will reflect their moods, expressions and thoughts about the art works,” he concludes.