This painter once lived in
idyllic surroundings, next to Shalimar Gardens outside Srinagar. Here were
shoals of flowers in spring or summer, or else the multitudinous snowdrops.
The grass overspreading the garden may well have been his delight. Across the
valley, the immense green valley, white peaks rose against the sky. Whiteness
of snow drops, the purity of light: the secret intimacy of flowers in the
foreground; the elemental vastness of the far-flung lower hills and skies:
this was his world, the country of his imagination.
For A.K. Raina the wonder of
creation, then was never an esoteric thing-remote, calculated, difficult, but
immediately and perpetually perceptible. He nevertheless never painted
flowers, grasses or the mountains, but rather his wonder of them. And this
‘wonder’ found its most luminous expression in the body of his work
particularly the one he puts up right now- most of it in acrylic, some of it
water colour. All these works are fresh, re creative and companionable. His is
a happy art despite all the travails he has undergone during these past few
trying years, an art that is radiant, without a trace of suffering. It is
remarkable that the painter has kept a level head despite the great
provocation from the times. It is therefore an art of much subtlety and
sophistication with an intensity of direct observation and feeling. In other
words it is refined, impassioned and unfettered.
The artist has of course
something in common with certain of the painters of the century, but he always
follows his own path. In innumerable edenic images, he celebrates his feeling
for the vivid consciousness of life expressed in nature. Such work is done
with a magical simplicity and miraculous economy. This is certainly true of
the chosen of the works. Here the artist has entered by a kind of love, into
union with the life that inheres in the spirit of forms, as in the light that
emanates from the spectrum of colours.
In such works he explores a
variety of formal resolutions of the possibilities opened up by a process of
simplification derived from the originals in nature- grasses, trees, hills and
dales: the geometry and hues of mother earth. A treat!
The valley of Kashmir endowed
with nature’s abundance was my home once. There I was born and lived and was
cradled by nature in her lap. To me she provided not only fullness of sensuous
pleasure by her superb attraction, but also made me a painter with quest,
compelling me to give expression to the intense, bright and clear surroundings
created by nature around me.
Away from my home, out in the
open and away from the august forms, I am conscious of the mysterious process
of awe inspiring aspects of nature influencing my mind.
The mountain peaks, the
glaciers, the lakes of emerald green, the dense forests of dark green pines
and deodars, the winding and aimlessly flowing rivulets, making music on their
pebbly beds, the willow groves and above all the majestic chinars. These are
the images which rise at my will from my consciousness and again merge into
the same like rising and merging waves of the ocean.
She is the mother of universe,
who has countless forms. She is the supreme power. Giver of perfection, in
every action. May she protect all……….
A Contemplation of the macrocosm…….
The goings on in the bullet
shattered Kashmir, has not led merely to the creation of bloody and
melodramatic canvasses by the valleys painters. That would be too banal. A.K.
Raina at least has kept his cool, concentrating only on the light above the
murk. He is not saying much, in words. But even when keeping largely mum, he
makes us sense the silent holiness that is quite different from routine
The painter's best work, pleads
not tourism, but a wordsworthian inner eye, or the contemplation of the
macrocosm in its strartling rain bow colours. Such a felt remembrance frees us
of our meanness. At least four of Raina's landscapes by the simple device of
compounding images, treble their imaginative strength, and are not the usual
ware in the genre. In certain works, number 3 for example, the unique
characteristics of the valley have been captured in a nut shell. Numbers 6,8
and 10, bring us to book- to the intuition of the power and glory of the
greater world within which lies our microscopic and ephemeral one.
India, New Delhi, April 11, 1991
……….the emphasis with A.K. Raina
rarely comes out in capturing the physical ambience of a scene, despite the
fact that what we confront, to begin with, is a sort of physical content. The
visual approach, let us not forget demands it.
……. A.K. Raina has captured the
spiritual core of Kashmir cutting out the non essential though relevant.
New Delhi, April 15, 1991
Designs in nature……
As a Kashmiri artist, A.K. has a
built in love for nature: the green hills and valleys, the snow capped peaks,
the grandeur of light and colours during change of seasons. A.K.'s landscapes
have a graphic simplicity in their colour areas, focusing more on the colour-values
and the directions of the painted areas than on painterly brush work, and some
of them are remarkable for their design value. A.K. divides his canvasses in
‘frames’ of oblong, breaking the continous surface in rectangles, which give
them a kind of intensity.
In his paintings, the massive
shoulders of the mountains become a play of colour diagonals, for instance in
No 2 . The charm of the painting lies in its economy of pictorial means…….
Express, New Delhi, April 14, 1991
The inner life of landscapes……..
……The mountains and rolling
hills of the Kashmir Valley of Raina's child hood become abstract relations of
space and colour, protected by a hard and smooth exterior. At the same time
their self imposed serenity protects from the grief over the loss of paradise.
But Raina's works still betray their inner turbulence in the contrast that
exists in his canvasses between the remote mountain forms and the lava- like
explosions of colour that accompany them. Raina knows that he is building up
an illusion, but he appears to want to remind one that all illusions are
Hindustan Times, New Delhi, April 22, 1991
Concentrating on mega feel….
"It is my other self", says Raina, that
walks the streets and corridors of Delhi, both god and beauty are back
there-God and beauty about which the famous Kashmiri saint poetess, Lalded,
had mused at length."But feeling and moods are illusory. You feel them this
moment and the next moment they are gone. And you are left with a kind of
enrichment yet you are frustrated that they went out of your grasp. Raina
tries to capture that elusive beauty, that enriching feel which nature alone
can give you. And during this process there is no time for detail. Going for
detail makes you miss the major part of the experience. Hence his
concentration on the mega feel instead of the minute - the minute that gets
you into quite another kind of involvement.
Raina in order to get the
maximum of that rich experience on his canvas, uses space like the creator of
the moghul miniatures. He tries to present many glimpses of the fleeting
phenomenon as compartmentalized views, integrated in a way that would give
some idea of the complex and passing phenomenon-the phenomenon that is breath
taking, befuddling and which transports one into quite another world
The majesty of the mountains and
the mystery locked in expansive nature, is something which Raina could never
put out of his mind once he became conscious of it. He would always see the
majestic himalyas standing as silent witnesses to our history-the mountains
that fascinated him ever since he was born in their lap. The mountains that
took him to the beginning of time-to the infinite and beyond…….
News, New Delhi, April 5, 1991
Honourable mention for A.K. Raina…….
…….Raina, in fact, has been long
on the scene doing typical abstract landscapes of the Kashmir valley. And his
style is solely his own. However there is only marginal abstraction in his
works. But this small deviation creates works of enduring interest. Rich in
colours Raina's landscapes depict the colourful environmental drama of the
valley. Fleeting moments and fleeting colours are skillfully captured by the
artist on his canvas in a perspective that is more in the category of
"innovative" rather than realistic. In fact, Raina's landscapes and their
colours provide more of a punch rather than a smooth perception of things
within the frame.
News, New Delhi, March 9, 1992
…..This time it is different.
The majority of his works currently on display are comprehensive in their
A.K. Raina has caught the mood
rather at the level of philosophical depths, inspired as he was by the poetry
of such renowned poets of Kashmir as Lal Ded.
A.K. Raina, is equally adept in
handling, both warm as well as cold colours. And that gives him an enormous
range so far as expressing the mood of the hour is concerned. Besides he is
semi abstract in his approach to landscaping which enables him to to break the
cordon of reality.
Evening News, New Delhi, Feb 5, 1997