Published: 04th February 2021
I am Roghi: This Kerala student draws striking images on leaves, fruits and berries. Here's why you'll love them
Rahul Sivan draws lifelike and intricately detailed portraits of himself and other people on leaves, fruits and berries under the name I Am Roghi
Let the disease spread. Or Rogham padaratte, if you prefer it in Malayalam.
This is the motto that Rahul Sivan follows when it comes to art. He says, "When I first started, a lot of people didn't know what leaf art was or how it was done. There was a lot of disdain for it initially. People would ask me if I was using a leaf because I couldn't afford a real canvas to draw on. It felt like I was mocked for being stricken with a disease. So when I say rogham padaratte, I mean I hope that my work inspires enough people to become roghis (patients) themselves. If art is a disease, then all those of us who enjoy it must be infected already!"
The 25-year-old who calls himself I Am Roghi, paints stunningly detailed and lifelike portraits, mostly of himself, on leaves, fruits, berries or anything he finds in his backyard. Having begun in 2018 when the medium was almost unheard of, he admits that the journey has been a learning curve. A degree student learning animation and graphic design at the time, leaves were just a cheaper substitute for the expensive canvases that he would have to travel from his home in Thiruvalla to Kochi to buy.
Rahul admits that he was inspired by the other artists around him. At a time when young artists from Kerala were beginning to make their presence known on Instagram and other online platforms, he came across a number of local artists who were unique in their own right. That's when the idea struck to explore his makeshift canvas a little further. He says, "I wanted to change people's perspective from this idea that it's just a cheap canvas to making it about the beauty of finding inspiration all around you. It's about accessibility, it's such an easily available material. And it's so much better for the environment as compared to the alternative."
The artist follows a simple process. When inspired by an idea, he quickly scribbles it in his sketchbook. If it is something he believes he can do, he quickly recreates it on the leaf or whichever item he is using at the time. The painting process itself takes a minimum of three days. Due to the intensive detailing that goes into it, he dedicates each day to applying a new coat as a layer. Rahul is very adamant about not destroying or tearing the leaf in any way. He paints simply on the surface of it and hopes it will go back into nature in its new form.
Currently a final year student doing his Master of Fine Arts at Amrita School of Arts and Sciences, he has been too caught up with his coursework to create any new work. But in the meantime, he's been busy doing commissioned work and a range of other new designs. To catch a glimpse of his work, find I Am Roghi on his social media pages.
Has the disease spread to you yet?