Create a wonderful world with rangoli

Sep 14, 2022 | 05:06 IST

Create a wonderful world with rangoli

Akash Naik hypnotizes art lovers using a very unpredictable medium, the rangoli. Known for his hyper-realistic rangoli designs, he also holds Asia’s record books for the smallest floating rangoli portrait of Sai Baba on honey in a spoon. He then worked on his first exhibition of rangoli-based artwork to show how the medium can be retained for a lifetime.

When Akash Naik, a resident of Kavlem-Ponda, takes the stage to create a rangoli, it is not a quiet mind but a more controlled environment that is required for his nimble fingers to create a masterpiece. From the water running over a toddler’s hair while taking a bath to the striking shade of yellow when applying haldi for a bride, her rangoli designs as portraits and even of 3D images, make one take a second look at the work to confirm if it is a photograph, a painting or really a rangoli created using a wide range of colors. Her most recent rangoli that took the internet by storm was her tribute to Queen Elizabeth II.

Rangoli is a traditional Indian art form of decoration drawn on the floor or entrances of houses using sand or colored powder. It is believed to bring good luck and prosperity to home and family and is often seen at Hindu festivals. Naik takes this simple medium to a whole new level with his artwork and he does it beautifully. As a class 11 student at Saraswati Higher Secondary School, Ponda, Naik had participated in a classroom rangoli competition and won first place. He was so motivated by this victory that he continued his education in art by obtaining his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Sculpture from Goa College of Arts, Panjim. “My older brother, Umesh Naik, is also a fine arts student and he works beautifully with rangoli. I accompanied him when he created rangolis in different places. Being a few years older than me, I was always fascinated by how he could work with such a difficult medium,” says Naik, who went on to win over 100 prizes for rangoli competitions across the state. .

Three years ago, while taking part in a competition in Maharashtra, he noticed how the other participants had a wide spectrum of colors compared to his basic oxide primary colors. He didn’t want to be held back because of the colors, so he sourced the new shades across the country. “I was using the colors readily available in Goa. I had the skills but lacked the required colors. These hyper realistic portraits require many colors which are pigment and lake colors. I now buy them in Chhattisgarh,” says Naik He has created rangoli portraits which have been exhibited at the International Film Festival of India and also won many awards at the National Rangoli Competition held in Maharashtra and Karnataka.

Working with the right colors is only one aspect of his job. Before you can see the perfect portrait, it takes hours of patience and practice to get every detail. “I study an image or photograph for hours, concentrating on every little detail, then I rehearse it for hours in my studio in Ponda. The hardest part of portraits is the reflection in the eyes and hair ends or the stray hairstyles but that’s what makes them beautiful.I’m always looking for a good topic.Recently some young boys visited our house for Ganesh aarti and I clicked on their picture.I I then used it to create a 3D portrait,” says Naik.

An art teacher for grades 1-10 at Gurukul Academy School, Ponda, Naik even takes art lessons for almost 75 students at his studio where he trains them in rangoli and different mediums. In addition to painting with mediums like watercolour, oil and acrylic, he even makes sculptures with clay and metal. He also practiced bodybuilding and represented his college in the senior national level category, but once the art took over his life, he no longer went to the gym.

In 2018, his paintings and sculptures were exhibited at the State Art Exhibition held at Kala Academy, Panjim. For two consecutive years, 2021 and 2022, he created the largest rangoli in Goa 5X5 meters for the Vasco Saptah at 1930 Mall, Vasco. He set the record by creating the smallest floating rangoli portrait of Sai Baba on honey for Asia Book of Records in 2021. He recently experimented with 3D rangoli portraits, all created in his studio. “From this year, I will no longer participate in state-level competitions because I want other participants to have a chance to win. It doesn’t seem fair for artists to come to rangoli if I continue to win. I have progressed in my skills so now I will only be competing nationally and internationally. Rangoli has its roots in India and we also need to work on creating a space for it on the global stage,” Naik says optimistically.

His latest invention is the technique of creating permanent Rangoli portraits which he succeeded. “Before, rangoli didn’t matter much. It would be beautiful for a few hours, then the colors would merge with the wind and at the end it would be wiped with a rag from the floor. I want to show that the rangoli can also be kept for a lifetime. It is a new invention and I have already created a portrait of Goddess Sarawati and a portrait of the Minister of Art and Culture, Govind Gaude. Rangoli has a bright future and artists will be able to keep the colors powdered with a glass on top. I plan to hold an exhibition of all my rangoli portraits in frames that can be sold,” says Naik, who is grateful to his friends who share his work on social media and helps reach a wider audience.

Teresa E. Burton