Thursday, April 29, 2021


         ( Spring in Kashmir by Mohan Raina)
     ( Evening time after Snowfall by Mohan Raina)
 ( A poster designed by Mohan Raina)


"Art in Kashmir and Mohan Raina the Creative Genius"
A book by Sudesh Raina.

Sudesh Raina is a friend known to me for over 40 years. Through him I also knew his father Mohan Raina ,the noted artist . Inspite of this ,there must have been two or three occasions when I directly interacted with his father . There was something in the personality of Mohan Raina that kept many people at a distance. I for one felt that he didn't like unnecessary interaction . And then if one looked at the level and quantum of his work, one always carried some sort of complex while standing close to him.

Coming to the book under review , I would call it a tribute to the artist by his son. Possibly no better tribute could have ever been written. With this book, the forgotten artist has suddenly turned alive. He finds his space in the social media .I saw a webinar discussion on Mohan Raina with intercontinental participation. His paintings are being uploaded. I am optimistic that Sudesh is going to deal with the memories of his father the way T. K. Walli has held the memory of his father D.N.Walli, another pioneer artist .

I know how strenuous and hectic efforts were put in by Sudesh Raina to collect photographs of the paintings of his father.Mohan Raina's oil paintings, portraits and water colours were scattered all over . These were in possession of many friends, relatives and well wishers of the artist while his family had none with them. In 1990, Mohan Raina's family left more than 1000 paintings done by the artist in their Badiyar Bala house in Srinagar city when they had to leave Kashmir in hurry to save their lives . I have seen Sudesh Raina going from door to door requesting and beseeching people to provide him with photographs of the paintings of his father . The book would have seen the light of the day in 2020 but his first publisher failed to fulfill this commitment possibly due to Covid crisis. He had to move to another publisher and his efforts finally ended in a good result in the shape of this book. 

Mohan Raina ,the son of artist Shiv Nath Raina was a versatile and prolific painter who created the emblem of the J&K state in 1952 and also designed initial logos for many institutions including Regional Engineering College, Srinagar, Medical College, Srinagar and the University of Kashmir. The logos that he designed were subsequently changed by some institutions . However, the J&K state emblem designed by Mohan Raina and approved by Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah remains visible everywhere to this day.
He also designed pamphlets, publicity material, created murals and some tableaus for the 26th January parade. In 1958, the J&K tableau designed by him for the 26th January parade won the first prize as the best tableau displayed by any state that year . He was the most prolific artist of his period who drew portraits of many poets, saints, political leaders and some noted writers of the state. He illustrated many books including poet Ghulam Nabi Khayal’s Kashmiri translation of Omar Khayam’s Rubayat. He also did magazine illustrations, cartoons, water colour landscapes, still life paintings, paintings based on some western classics in literature and figurative art.
Mohan Raina went to the US on a scholarship to study modern art at the University of Illinois. While in the US, he befriended some prominent American artists including Jimmy Ernst, Betty Sabo and Charmion Wiegand. All the three artists had earned name and fame the world over in their respective styles. Mohan Raina kept communication and contacts with these artists till his death.
He did illustrations for the Kashmiri dictionary compiled by Brij B. Kachroo of Illinois University. He retired as exhibition officer from the Information Department of J&K State and died from a sudden heart attack in 1983. More than one thousand paintings of the artist were lost when his house at Badiyar Bala , Srinagar was put on fire by some miscreants during the peak militancy in the Kashmir Valley.

Deliberating on the journey of art in Kashmir, the book comes straight to Badiyar ,Mohan Raina's family, his art, beautiful anecdotes, exile and the loss of Mohan Raina's work. Many people have been interviewed and their comments carried over verbatim. The book carries photographs of some portraits, landscapes ,sketches and book illustrations done by Mohan Raina. It also chronicles the growth of the artist in a family of artists and musicians . The well known Sitar player , Omkar Raina was Mohan Raina's younger brother. Tej Raina, another brother of Mohan Raina has been a Santoor player. He lives in Canada currently. Mayank Raina, the latest Sitar sensation, who has performed within and outside the country is from this illustrious family.  

The book has some memorable anecdotes and interesting details that attract reader's attention. From the book one gets a feeling that Kashmir remained his first love . He painted Kashmir's varied colours and seasons. The Chinar tree, hills ,snow, streams, lakes ,streets, bazaars and common people from his Kashmir find ample space in his work.The book gives a real insight into the personality and creative output of the pioneer . Available on Amazon, Flipkart and other sites,I recommend the book to one and all. I believe Sudesh is also selling the book directly on discount.

(Avtar Mota)

Creative Commons License
CHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
Based on a work at http:\\\.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.