When the Grammy-award winning sitar maestro, Ustaad Shujaat Khan started playing the evening ragas for the audience, Aarav Verma, standing close to him, picked up his paintbrush. He dipped it in the colour of his choice and let the musical muse guide him across the canvas. As the world-renowned musician allowed his skill to take reign over the sitar, so did Aarav’s dextrous strokes rule the canvas which was coming to life.
For Aarav, a 12-year-old artistic prodigy, the thrill of sharing the stage in October 2017 with Ustaad Shujaat Khan was unforgettable.
“I had not decided beforehand in terms of what I wanted to paint; instead I wanted to follow the mood and the music of the evening.”
The saying, ‘Artists are born, not made’ is perhaps an apt description for this young boy. Aarav, a student of grade 7 at the Shiv Nadar School, Gurugram, had been unique, right from the tender age of three.
In conversation with The Better India (TBI), Yogesh Verma, Aarav’s father, who has been instrumental in recognising and encouraging the talent of his son, says, “I still remember that, at three years of age, Aarav was making unusual characters and human figures, among others.”
“That was when I started delving more into it. Being inclined towards art myself, I was able to spot his talent.”
While Aarav has been exploring various mediums and styles, he has also been busy working toward making a change in people’s lives.
Art for a cause
Aarav is a socially responsible artist. On the night of Aarav’s artistic collaboration with Ustaad Shujaat Khan, his dexterity inspired the organisers to a great extent.
Yogesh tells that the intent of the show was not to sell the artwork, but the sponsors were so inspired that they decided to auction the painting. His painting fetched a sum of Rs 55,000/- and the proceeds went to the Shri Ram Krishna Cancer Hospital, Deoband.
Yogesh says, “This was the first time that his painting was auctioned off. It helped cancer patients get free treatment.”
Aarav’s artwork helps rehabilitate Kerala flood victims
In 2018, when the devastating floods struck Kerala, there was a great outpouring from all quarters of India and the world to help the victims in any way they could. Aarav allowed his paintbrush to come to the aid of the State. He joined the NDTV-Tata sky telethon campaign to raise money.
Faber Castell bought the painting that he made for the campaign for Rs. 3 lakhs. Yogesh says that so far, just via the medium of his artwork, Aarav has raised close to Rs 5 lakh to support various causes.
A known name at various art exhibitions, Aarav has displayed his paintings at the Indian Habitat Centre, New Delhi, Mina Zayed, Abu Dhabi in 2015, and even at the recently concluded Art Fair in New Delhi.
Aarav allows his work to speak his thoughts. The inspiration for his work, he says, is something that only he knows and will not be able to express in words.
He goes on to say that his artwork reflects what is in his mind while he is creating it.
With over 400 works spanning across nine years, solo art exhibitions and live painting shows with Indian Sitar maestro – Ustad Shujaat Khan & ace flautist – Paras Nath, this is only the beginning of a long, creative journey for this young artist.
If you wish to look at some of his work, you could visit his website here.