Artist Statement -

I had read it somewhere that space is something in which things exist and in which all movements take place (otherwise it is nothing!) This relationship between space, existence and movement has stuck in my mind over the decades of my working life as an artist. In all my works I have been dealing with space. And all the forms and objects therein have served as residents of that space – forms and objects with their own dynamics, their own identities and functions.
However, I have taken care, that the forms and objects I introduced in my picture space, well integrate with the space they are lodged into and perform a function that amounts to just declaring their existence and their right to exist therein (whether in harmony or conflict). These forms and objects have a function (the function I decide them to be performing). And that function is generally decided by the space I allot them. And they are made to exhibit a lively interest in both their existence and environment.
However, I generally divide my pictorial space in order to create both depth and mood. Here comes in my architectural sense which I have been developing over the years. And for this purpose I have used colour – colour which is the very essence of existence. Often, the abstract nature of my work demands a symphony like treatment – open, yet organized and controlled, if only to achieve the purpose art by its very nature, is supposed to achieve. However, being a ruthless editor of my own work, I very strictly judge whether the created work offers my audience the view and vision (an alternative vision), I mean.
An alternative vision is of course the very need of art, whether abstract or realistic (by realistic I do not mean photo-realism). And it is a more pressing need of our time as civilization fatigue sets in (boredom with the harsh realities of life, set patterns of living, thinking and movement etc.) Much of course has been said about faceless men, concretised urban landscape, red, yellow and green lights at every road crossing, standardised thought patterns and so on (some, flaunted as tradition) or hot stuff from fashion factories). All this strangle hold on our mental space it to be broken, shrugged aside new denizens of an abstract world are to be invented and installed. It is the prerogative of an alternative vision. Something which I am always under compulsion to offer.
But I must also talk of feelings – feelings for which artists use colour. There are different vibrations of course. And at times, I must admit, these try to pull me apart. And my major task becomes, how to keep them within the limits of abstraction, that is, how to keep my colour component from becoming sentimental or melodramatic. I have of course no fear of their touching the periphery of drama, as some of my works would indicate. But I am conscious that an internal dialogue (that is, within the picture space), among the forms and objects should not over-ride the subtler and finer communication between the work and the viewer (the audience that finally brings the work alive).
Of course, I am aware that it is a narrow path I have to travel, like the narrow mountain paths and the snowcaps above, wherein a false step might cause an avalanche. But all that risk is to be taken with the boldness which only an artist could display.
I have had a successful art career and I am rather proud that my audience and my own inner strength have always supported me. And I have always had a favourable response from art galleries and establishments without an exception. This situation is indeed cherishable.
Day in and day out of course I am being made aware of an art market. There is one indeed wherein the value of art does not show a steady graph as it used to in earlier times, when art attained eternal values. However, I have no quarrel with it. Once art goes public, it lives its own life. From my point of view, if I am allowed to make the point, its value for me lies in what it has achieved on the creative plane. The rest is, what the world calls it or weaves around it.



Artist Exhibitions


1992 Jawahar Kala Kendra, Jaipur organized by ‘IPTA’.
1992 Green Wood Art Gallery
1992 Gallery Espace
1992 Group Show in Denmark
1993 Duet Show in Gallery Jharokha
1994-1999 Dhoomi Mal Gallery
1995 Lalit Kala Rabindra Bhawan
1998 Enter Art Gallery, Korea
1999-2004 Galeria Muller and Plate, Germany
2002 Joy of Life - Painting Exhibition, Art Alive Gallery, New Delhi
2002 Kalanjali Art Gallery, Delhi
2003 Indian Abstract Art at Shridharani
Art Gallery – Indian Forum of Creative Artist
2003 Kite show – Dhoomi Mal Art Center
2003 ‘Project Time’, Painting Exhibition, Belgium, Europe
2003 Painting Show by Birla Academy
2003 Painting Show at Hyatt Regency Hotel by Damayanti
2003 International Miniatures Print Exhibition, Belgium.
2003 Indian Painting Exhibition at Galeria Borowski, Germany.
2003 Painting exhibition at Stadtische Galeria at Aserlohn
2005 Nandan Art Gallery, Kolkata
2007 Group show in Korea
2007 Delhi Art Gallery,New Delhi
2007 Doomi Mal Art Gallery,New Delhi, India
2007 Jung Art Gallery, South Korea
2007 Shanti Art Gallery, South Korea
2007 70 years of Dhoomimal Art Gallery
2007 Garhi artist,Art Exhibition Organized by Lalit Kala Academy Delhi


1990-1992 Annual Art Exhibition AIFACS
1992 India Youth Art Exhibition organized by Sahitya Kala Parishad.
1992 Bansi Parimool Memorial Exhibition AIFACS.
1992 All India Exhibition, Kanpur
1993, 2000 National Art Exhibition orgsnised by Lalit Kala Academy
2001 Exhibition of Delhi Artists,by Birla Academi of Art and culture,Kolkatta.
1993 All India Exhibition in Jaipur
1993-1994 In Search for Talent in Vadhera Art Gallery
1995 All India Exhibition organized by Chitra Kala Parishad, Bangalore.
2003 ‘Art and Fashion’by Damyanti Art Gallery New Delhi

2004 Golden Jubilee,Lalit Kala Akademy
2006 XI Trienale India
2006 Group show at India Habitat,Orgnised by Doomi mal art Gallery,New Delhi
2007 Art Aouction organized by Doomi Mal Art Gallery
2008 Art action organized by Help Age Ngo,Delhi


Artist Publications


Whenever contemporary Indian art is mentioned, Hemraj’s name automatically comes up. In Delhi’s art world, he is a familiar face. But even when famous Indian painters are mentioned, Hemraj sits close to modern masters of Abstractionism. Working mostly in oil, Hemraj has produced a remarkable body of oil painting over the years. Top Indian art galleries have been dealing in his works both in Delhi as well as Mumbai. Their well tested assessment is that he is one of the most saleable Indian painters in abstract vein. Personally, one of the most humble benign an unassuming person, ready to communicate and reciprocate. There are few fine – artists who would match him. He is a class to artist like Atul Dodiya, Subodh Gupta & the veteran master of line, M.F. Hussain. Contribution of this fine artist to the contemporary art of the abstract genera is both substantial and significant.

Art Critic & Poet

This Painter Captures Spirit of Nature In Oils

If he had not been a painter, 33 year-old Hem Raj would have probably found his calling in being an environmentalist. The Delhi College of Art product swears by his “pakki dosti” with oils. “That is why flora and fauna find an important place in my work. Even the stone lying on the road is connected to us in some way.” No wonder, he calls his current exhibition, on view at the Delhi Art Gallery till December 7, ‘An Ozone for Spirit.’

But then, all his shows in the past too (his first art outing, Metamorphosis was held at Lalit Kala Akademi in ’91) have had exotic titles. “I take the help of my teachers and seniors for such things,” says Hem Raj, who won the National Award in 2000. But if there is one person he credits for motivating him, it is his father. “He understood my innate talent for art and persuaded me to take the exams for the art college.”

Though Hem Raj remembers his first year in college as “very unsatisfactory”, he went on to win the award for best student for both BFA and MFA courses. Do awards mean a lot to his? “such recognition does make one confident but I do not strive to get them,” says Hem Raj, who has earlier shown at the Dhoomimal Art Gallery and Alliance Francaise. He counts V Gaitonde and K. S. Kulkarni among those those who have inspired him. “I am fascinated by the freedom in their work. Only now this control over medium has begun to creep into my work.”

Saturday, 1 December 2001

Celebrating the divine, proclaiming rebellion

The first thing you notice about Hem Raj’s paintings titled “Metamorphosing. To Devotion’ is their sheersize. Added to the mammoth look, the paintings are mounted on some exquisite hand-crafted (by the artist himself) wooden frames interspersed with rusty iron and brass patches and chains as are found on some ancient doors. “The frame is the gateway to the sanctum – sanctorum of the divine,” he says.

Currently showing at the Shridharani Gallery at Triveni Kala Sangam, the entire range of oils on canvas reminds one of tribal art from Madhya Pradesh. There are massive forms of animals and birds, flowers and tree. The texture is rough – great blobs of paint left to dry within the shapes, signifying the pores of the skin, represented by the outline of powerful forms of animals like elephants because “God is powerful and immense too”.

The paintings are devotional, like the bhakti ras found in poetry and music. The style is reminiscent of Sufism, the same abandon and gaiety in reference to the divine who is both the lover and the teacher, the giver and the keeper. Simplicity abounds, again in keeping with the Sufi tradition and tribal art which “the within himself’.

Colours are kept to the bare minimum, subdued shades – monochromatic colours – where different shades of the same colour have been used to the maximum effort. No stark colours for Hem Raj, which is where he perhaps differs from the tribal artists who have a penchant for using bright shades. Indigo blues, olive greens, dusty pinks, murky browns, rusty oranges, pale yellows – Hem Raj is indeed different from them.

Like Sufism, again Hem Raj is concerned only with singing praises of the divine. Unlike a few of his contemporaries who are keen to project contemporary life, the artist has restricted himself to religious themes because according to him this is perhaps the best way to try and be with god while living in a society which is “full of false pride, faithlessness and strife”.

Hem Raj believes an artist is like a flute – it doesn’t pipe of its own. The player is the one who creates the magic of music. Likewise, the comes to naught, he simply becomes a medium. “I am as animate or inanimate as my canvas, brush or colours are. The forms and shapes start talking place the moment I pick up a brush, the painting begins from within me and towards the climax I find myself loosing my own individuality and mingling with the beauty that has flown out of me. That is the ultimate bliss for me. I feel as if I’ve successfully managed to give birth to these forms and in return they are grateful to me for bringing them alive,” – the art and the artist then become one and the same!

The flute remains a mute witness to the ongoing phenomenon of the divine, it lets HIM play as per HIS whim and fancy. The artist, then, is the mute witness-cum-medium of the ‘magic that unfolds before his eyes’. The paintings are no longer that of the artist but are the footprints, symbols, and the reflection of the Magnificent who sometimes appears in the form of a beautiful animal or a bird, or even in the vegetation and the sky. “He is the scriptwriter as also the actor, the director and the producer. He is the form, the shape, the colour, the texture and the shine of my art. And he loves me through all these shapes and sizes,” proclaims the Sufi-artist.

Born on June, 1968, Hem Raj one of the most promising contemporary young artists was initiated into the art by his father who persuaded him into joining the College of Art. But college was limited only to the point where a mother initiates a child into learning to communicate. How he does it and how well depends entirely on the child. For this artist too the art college taught him the basics of creativity, but he preferred to develop his own style instead of limiting himself to a particular genre.

Awards, solo exhibition group shows and workshops have all been cramped into the short span of about four years on his way to being recognized as are artist with a difference. His collection of paintings could be viewed at Lalit Kala Akademi, College of art, Sathiya Kala Parishad besides several private collections in India and abroad the Germans being the most ardent admirers of Hem Raj.

But at a glance, the paintings also seem to be proclaiming rebellion against the present. And at time some of them resemble graffiti on the wall.

The Indian Express
New Delhi Tuesday August 20 1996

Metamorphosis of Hem Raj’s imagery through oil on canvas

His canvases are huge, and overpower the white stark gallery walls. Their theme, Metamorphosis dominates them in their entirety. The painter, exhibiting in Bombay for the first time ever, has concentrated more on imagery than form, but form has not been ignored altogether.

Hem Raj, a 26 year old MFA Delhi University post graduate, has to his credit the Lalit Kala Research Grant in painting for 1993-94. this is his third solo exhibition.

He preferred medium is oil, and he uses colour as an orchestral medium to depict certain ‘evolution’ of thought.

“Bhakti or devotion is very important to me. I start with the basic premise of questioning one’s existence in the scheme of things in this universe. And form this quest I reached the conclusion that everything begins and ends with devotion or love or faith or belief. Call it what you may.”

He has tried to represent devotion through the use of tribal symbols, cave paintings, the male female symbols, cave paintings, inverted hearts, passage like tonal progressions of symbols.

Representations of icons and idols mutate into blurrings of colour and shadow, there is a procession of the microscopic algae like forms and the amoebic squatness of free floating shapes co-exist in a time space warp, an expanding cosmos.

“There are no limitations in my work, there are never any boundaries, nor any land or sea or sky to be seen. The would confine my forms to a finite zone. What I seek to represent is infinity.”

Tantric symbolism is a major part of the symbolism inherent in his work.

Intertwined forms, apex joint triangles, handcuff shapes, layering of colour under knifed out forms, all point to a rootendness in the archaeological heritage of the country.

The patterns shown his work evolve from canvas to canvas, the Metamorphosis is subtle yet discernable, the cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth is implicit in the movement of the symbols.

Stylized forms and symbols point back to the Darwinian theory of the evolution of the species.

The one celled protozoans and the primitive species of geomorphic evolution are indicative of the origins of man, and the inheritance from the nebulous interstellar gas clouds.

“I believe a lot in mankind as a species, and it is imperative of us to understand that we have not been created from a vacuum, there is divine force which has created us and which moves us.”

This dependence on a supernatural force, and this infinity, which buffets and cradles the forms of life is sought to be represented by light rays which sweep the canvases.

His work draws heavily on the influence of J. Swaminathan, and he readily admits it. “Basically, my works try to show the interaction between various forms of nature, whether man or animal or plant.”

This premise is inherent in tribal art, which is animistic in its orientation.

The space in the canvas is realiged with a deft handling which belies the apparent naivety of the lines.

As his paintings evolve, one notice a definite evolution of style simultaneous with the theme.

The Asian Age
20 May 1994

Primitive Strokes

Hem Raj’s paintings, which he exhibited in Delhi recently, are like discovering history. That he makes history in the process for one so young is only incidental. In thick oils, he buries symbols for you to pick up – like fossils from another age.

He is very definitely influenced by cave paintings. In his paintings, he has created an ambience of primitive history. His paintings create a dialogue with each other. His treatment of colour has a maturity unexpected in so young an artist. He is a painter who goes beyond his time – into the future with symbols of past – making the present worth living.

Hem Raj:
Passion for the past
July 8, 1994

Artist: Hem Raj Exhibition at Alliance Francaise

A product of the Delhi of Art, Hem Raj has come a long way since he first started out. His present exhibition consists of multimedia works using mostly pastels and charcoal.

The symbolism relies equally on colours, bold strokes and geometric figures. They blend together perfectly to form a structured whole. Most of Hem Raj’s works are inspired by cave paintings and folk motifs. He seeks to find a language for the changing faces of nature through colour and line. Hem Raj is guided by hypothetical ideas which are governed by their own logic and formulate their own meaning. He intuitively weaves one concept into another turning them into one ...

Artist Collections

College of Art, Delhi
Sahitya Kala Parishad Delhi
Lalit Kala Academy, Madras
The Ideal Fine Art Society, Karnataka
Modern Art Gallery, New Delhi
Galeria Muller and Plate, Germany
Dhoomi Mal Art Gallery, New Delhi
Delhi Art Gallery, New Delhi
Wrosi Muveszeti Museum, Gyor, Hungary
Borowski Art Gallery, Germany
Jung art Gallery,Korea
Shanti art Gallery,Korea


Artist Favorites