‘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.

Paintings of Lord Ganesha by Rajani Battula

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’.

Paintings of Lord Shiva by Rajani Battula

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.

Painting by Rajani Battula

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

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