The Artist behind statues of Dogra Heroes

Ravinder Jamwal is a prominent name in art arena who has brought laurels to UT of Jammu & Kashmir with his much acclaimed works.
He was born on November 01’1960 at Birpur in District Samba of UT of Jammu & Kashmir.He had been interested in sculpture right from his childhood and recalls that when he was in 9th standard, his talent was recognised by one of his teachers who boosted his morale to get more inclined to art. He made up his mind to innovate more to quench his thirst for creative art. His father was in Indian Army but he got full support from his elder brother to pursue his passion.In order to have professional excellence he joined Institute of Music & Fine Arts (IMFA) Jammu.
After completing his graduation from IMFA Jammu in 1986, he decided to go ahead for more advanced training in sculpture and sought admission in prestigious Maharaja Sayajirao,University of Baroda from where he completed his post-graduation portraiture in 1988. It was the period when he was so passionate about sculpture that he learned even the minutest of details in making sculptures. With sheer confidence, hard work and imaginative mind he was developing as a versatile sculptor, set to earn name and fame with his colossal works.
RavinderJamwal believes in work. It is his sheer dedication and devotion towards his passion that he has carved a niche for him in art arena. He has been a source of inspiration for many.The upcoming sculptors of the region look at him as their role model. His creative and innovative collections have been critically acclaimed which have won appreciation not at individual level but have brought glory for the region too.
In a free wheeling chat with Rajeshwar Raju, he talks on various aspects of statue making and the problems prevailing in the field.
Excerpts of the interview.
Rajeshwar: Do you see any future for sculptors in UT of J&K ? This question has become quite relevant now because only a few sculptors hailing from this region have emerged with all creative instinct on national cultural scene and you are among those prominent ones.
Ravinder: I believe, a sculptor should be self sufficient so that he can adjust himself in any situation to make it a source of survival. As we all know that Jammu is being developed as a Smart City, I would like to suggest administration to focus on folk art and culture of Jammu as our new generation is being deprived of it. This can be a source of optimistic approach for an art. It has been mindset of people from the very beginning that their children choose professions like doctors and engineers etc. Due to which a very few artists come out with all dedication, strong determination and hard work. I would like to name some of the successful and prominent sculptors like Late Vidya Rattan Khajuria, Late Gayur Hassan, Padamshri Rajendra Tikkoo and Shabir Mirza who have brought laurels to Jammu with their distinguished contributions in the field of art.
Rajeshwar: To what extent J&K Academy of art, Culture and Languages is offering platforms or financial aid to aspiring talent in sculpture?
Ravinder: J&K Academy of Art, Culture and Languages has always been a big platform for the artists. Number of national and international artists used to come here for the camps. Here, I want to mention that our Academy may have best collection of sculptures of many artists and I believe, no other Academy would have such a collection. But for the last some years, art activities have suffered due to militancy. I feel that if Academy starts providing platform to young artists, it will be a good source for exploring the art. I would also like to request our Lieutenant Governor Sir to start Lalit Kala Regional centre to promote art at region level, which will be a milestone for all artist. I am sure this is the demand of every artist too.
Rajeshwar: What is your take on ‘Regular Online Exhibitions” that have become a trend during Covid 19 pandemic ? Do these really evaluate the talent and what about the awards distributed in whole sale by so many organizations that have mushroomed all of sudden.
Ravinder: I firmly disagree that art can never be promoted with Online Exhibitions. But the actual place of art piece is always in gallery and I believe, after this Corona pandemic, art exhibitions should be organized properly. Now- a- days, one more trend is being observed in art arena i.e. to get international and national awards. In this context, I would like to use a word ‘EYEWASH’ as it can be well compared to getting Merit certificates which have no value and significance in art field. A sculptor shows his art with complete hard work and dedication which cannot be judged in online exhibition.
Rajeshwar: Do you agree that there is dearth of art promoters in this region particularly? How to survive as an artist then ? I am asking you this vital question because of the fact that Cultural Academy has been defunct for the last few years now.
Ravinder: In my opinion, 1980-2000 can be considered as a Golden age for art activities. During this tenure, whether IMFA (institute of Music and fine arts) or Academy both were very active and progressive. But due to less awareness among people, the graph of creative art has come down. No doubt, the new generation and upcoming artists are doing well in their respective fields.
Rajeshwar: What are the basic characteristics to become a sculptor? We always proclaim that dedication and devotion is a key to success. Is it enough or there is a short cut route also to showcase your potential much to your gains.
Ravinder: If you want to be a sculptor, two characteristics are very much required. These are that of labourer and philosopher. If any one of these is missing, then one cannot be a perfect sculptor. Apart from this, open space, material for making sculpture, tools and different types of machinery are also required. There is no shortcut in art field especially for a sculptor because determination, dedication, and hard work never come with the shortcuts, but it requires a lot of patience and labour work.
Rajeshwar: Sculpture making is a costly affair. Without monetary aid it is quite difficult to manage things. How do you cope up with financial angle ?
Ravinder: Indeed, it’s very expensive than other art forms. I use to spend on my creative and installation works from my savings.
Rajeshwar: Do you think that art may survive in UT of J&K as an amateur artist only ? You earn from other sources and then invest in art to quench your thirst for creativity.
Ravinder: No, Art cannot survive as a part time hobby. In Jammu, it is difficult to survive as an amateur artist. It is true that sculpture making is an expensive work. I manage all expenditure from my statues and spend it on my other creative works. Otherwise, it would have been very tough to manage all these expenditures.
Rajeshwar: You are tagged as An Artist behind statues of Duggar Heroes in Jammu. How you look at this honour ?
Ravinder: I feel privileged in making the statues of heroes of my motherland like Maharaja Gulab Singh Ji, Maharaja Ranbir Singh ji, Maharaja Hari Singh Ji and some warriors like General Zorawar Singh, Brig. Rajinder Singh, Mian dido, Jambu Lochan, Pt. Prem Nath Dogra, General Bikram Singh, Mahatma Gandhi Ji, Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, Girdhari Lal Dogra, Lala Hans Raj, Chanakya and many other martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the nation. I am thankful to Almighty for giving me this opportunity for working on such great personalities.
Rajeshwar: A sincere advice to new entrants in the field of sculpture
Ravinder: Dedication, hard work, true determination and commitment are some vital key words for becoming an artist. We have to develop a broader outlook to make it more progressive.