London born and bred Nadeem Chughtai embarked on a career in film as a scenic artist before getting his own studio.
History and Background
I was born in Epsom in 1973 and grew up in Worcester Park. Encouraged by my parents, especially my mother, I started drawing at a very early age. My ability to draw came from my father. I would always seek his approval of my work and to this day value his knowledge and positive criticism.
At school art was my favourite subject, along with P.E. I therefore followed the natural route through GCSE to ‘A’ level where I received a lot of encouragement from two wonderful teachers, Ms. Robertson and Ms. Slack. I remember Ms. Slack (an artist in her own right) showing me an image in order to inspire me when deciding on my final piece. The atmosphere and mood created in that piece had a very strong influence on all the work I produce to this day. I then went on to do a Foundation course at Epsom School of Art and Design - a great course involving lots of experimentation in all areas of art. This was followed by an Illustration course at Northbrook College in Worthing which left a lot to be desired, however, living for two years as a student in Brighton more than made up for it.
At college I was eventually put off of drawing when my tutors told me I was no good at it, even though I got top marks in my life drawing class. I never doubted my ability, but in defiance I vowed not to draw again, instead I would learn about photography and then become a film-maker, where I felt that I would have the widest audience possible.
In the summer of 1997 I got some work experience in the art department of ‘The Avengers’ feature film. It was unpaid but I stayed for 6 weeks and was fascinated by all aspects of film making. It was there that I saw scenic art for the first time. These artists, usually only two of them, would paint the whole of Trafalgar Square on canvas 700ft long and 40ft high around the set. It was mind-blowing. I had to have a piece of that! In 1999 I assisted an artist, Steve Mitchell, for a day on ‘102 Dalmations’. We developed a good rapport and I eventually became his assistant, working with him and occasionally other artists for the next five years on many big budget films. What I learnt during this time with Steve was invaluable. I still now call him to pick his brain on any area I need advice on.
The film industry is very precarious, you have no way of knowing when or even if the next job will come, so in Dec ’03 my partner at the time encouraged me to get a studio. It was then that I began producing my own paintings. I exhibited a few times and my work got a good response.
In 2005 I entered the New Artists competition at the NEC in Birmingham and won after which I took a publishing deal with Washington Green…
…so here I am.
Ideas and Inspirations
I am a keen observer of everyday life so my ideas are created from images I see all around. I also dig deep into thoughts, feelings and emotions that I may be experiencing at the time. I feel that people are very similar in many ways, so expressing my feelings can often strike a chord with those who relate to the situations that I put my characters in. I have always been fascinated by light and the shadows, forms, mood and atmosphere it can create. During my time as a scenic artist I learnt so much from the artists I worked with, they have a vast knowledge of all aspects of art, light, perspective and colour. They are almost like modern day equivalents of the renaissance masters, taking on commissions and designs on a grand scale.
The characters I use could be each and every one of us at any time and they are large in order to represent the consumer society we live in. I choose to keep them anonymous by not showing their faces but give them their personality through body language and posture.
I like to keep an element of mystery about my paintings leaving them open to individual interpretation.