‘My Story’ shares the experiences of an Indian living in Switzerland.
Meet Rajani Battula – she’s moved along with her husband from India to Switzerland and then to Shanghai and back here in 2014. Switching countries, being a busy wife and mother, she also found her passion. Rajani Shares her story – her love for painting and art.
Tell us about yourself
I belong to Hyderabad and have been moving between China (Shanghai) and Switzerland as a trailing spouse for 20 years. My first move to Switzerland was in 2004, after which I went to Shanghai for a while. I have had the opportunity to explore two countries that are culturally poles apart, and since 2014, I have made Adliswil my home.
How did your art journey begin?
When we moved to Shanghai I had to learn Mandarin. Along with my language course, I also had the opportunity to learn more about Chinese culture. We were asked to choose one subject and specialise in it. I chose Chinese brush painting. Initially, I struggled a lot as my art teacher, Yao Laoshi, did not speak any English and I didn’t understand a word of Mandarin. As he painted, I would sit quietly and watch his brush strokes. With time, I slowly started practicing and fell in love with the art of Chinese painting. It’s become a passion, and since then, there’s been no looking back.
Tell us about your artwork in Shanghai
Having moved from Switzerland to Shanghai, a lot of my artwork was inspired by my life in Switzerland. While learning Chinese art, I would try and improvise on paintings. One of my first works was based on Swiss landscapes on Chinese rice paper. I later got them mounted. My teacher was so impressed that he held an exhibition of my paintings in the school. Since then, I have been having my exhibitions many times through the year in Shanghai earlier, and now in Switzerland.
What inspires you to create art?
Nature – and living Switzerland has added a special meaning to my art. Swiss landscapes, the changing colours of the seasons, the cottages and chalets, and architecture inspire me when I work on my art projects. Besides paintings, I love photography, art journaling and experimenting with various mediums, such as ceramics glass, stone, and wood. I specialise in Chinese brush paintings, mosaics and pop art.
Tell us more about your artwork in Switzerland
When I moved to Switzerland, I had exhibited at quite a few events. My artwork has been exhibited in ZIS international school on International Women’s Day and at the IAGZ gala evening. I have also donated some of my artwork at a charity auction event at ZIS international school.
I had an exhibition of Ganesha-themed artwork at the Buchegg Family Center. – and have been conducting regular workshops and art sessions in Switzerland. My paintings have made it to the homes of many private collectors around the world. I have had the privilege to gift one of my paintings to Shri Shri Ravi Shankar ji of ‘The Art of Living’.
Give us a glimpse of your workshops and art sessions
My classes are mostly in the afternoon, where I teach, paint and create artwork along with my students. Each session is approximately two hours long and I provide all the needed art material.
It’s a great feeling to teach beginners and enthusiasts about art. I feel immensely satisfied and pleased when they come back to learn more. I have both Indians, Swiss and other international expat students who attend my workshops and sessions.
Tell us more about the exhibition of your artwork
My work will be showcased at a group exhibition with other international artists in Zurich south gallery in Adliswil. The exhibition will be on till the end of January. In February 2019, I have another exhibition with two artists in the same gallery.
Do you like it here? What do you love and what would you change?
Yes, of course, I like being in Zurich. Creating art requires a lot of time and space. And that sometimes becomes a challenge. I am an artist, but also a wife and mother with a family who need to be taken care of. I try my best to divide my time managing on the home front and, at the same time, not compromising on my passion. There are lots to explore – and this is just the beginning.
As told to Keerthana Nagarajan