He is a befitting example of a mystic who like a trapeze artist traverses through various forms of creative expression, turning each realm into a masterpiece, as if this was the task he was born for. A yoga guru, an art maestro, a pianist, poet, thinker, guide, philosopher, and a great pal to his brood who lovingly call him Sensei, Bharat Thakur defies all definitions.
He is best known as the man behind Artistic Yoga, a new form of yoga that he not just created but took to myriad shores abroad, teaching the craft to global celebrities like Vladimir Putin, the monarchy of UAE, Karisma Kapoor, Amitabh Bachchan and many others.
However, today after setting up hugely successful yoga studios in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Dubai, Moscow and Azerbaijan, Bharat has turned to art, making it his raison d’etre. Right through the lockdown, he lived in Rishikesh by the Ganges, sketching and painting each day. He trudges on, bringing alive his spiritually-led art, that goes from paintings mystics that emerge in his mind and faces that haunt his soul, with a few abstracts thrown in.
He had just returned after a very successful show in Dubai, his second home, when the pandemic struck. He was still nursing the happiness of how his portrait of the king had met with critical acclaim and how the show was a total sell-out. Hours before the lockdown, he drove to his home in Rishikesh where he has stayed ever since, cooking his famed aloo chokha, meeting his spiritual guru, practising yoga with a swiftly flowing Ganga as his background, and painting a new work almost every day.
Bharat is multi-dimensional, with Art being as close to his heart as Yoga and Spirituality. All of this can be attributed to Bharat’s unique upbringing. At the age of four, he was taken to the caves around Gomukh in the higher reaches of the Himalayas by his master, who belonged to an ancient lineage of adepts.
He lived in an unusual environment, which was snowbound throughout the year with almost no vegetation, and practically no contact with civilisation, where you could not take your food or even sleep for granted. It was at once a push towards survival mode as well as an immersion in meditation and silence, where the natural elements kept you company and life was lived around the fire pit or ‘dhuna’ in the caves.
What marked him out in such a world was his deep interest and fascination for sketching, which came naturally to him as a child. With no art school or art material in the caves, he was constantly drawing on the ice, using the soil, leaves and so on to create what can be called installations in retrospect. These were the seeds of the artist.
Yet his life had a mission and the mission was Yoga. After eleven years in the hills, Bharat pursued his formal education where he specialised in exercise physiology that culminated in a PhD. Following this, he started his yoga company, Bharat Thakur Artistic Yoga, and over a period of two decades, the company grew to become an internationally renowned brand spread across The Middle East, Russia, Central Asia and Europe.
Bharat’s art career was on a slow burn through this period as all his energies went in creating the yoga movement. He called his method of yoga ‘Artistic Yoga’ as art was his way of life. Art to him combined truth, beauty, spirit and passion. Through all these years, he kept up the sketching and developed a fair amount of familiarity and ease with the medium of watercolour and charcoal during his years as a student and while helming the Artistic Yoga movement.
And like art was essential to his Yoga, the soul is essential to his art. His paintings and sculptures are a visual manifestation of the beauty that springs straight from the soul. His art is also informed by his study of the human anatomy and physiology during his years at the Lakshmibai National Institute of Physical Education (LNIPE), Gwalior, where he did his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Yoga and Physiology.
“It was in 2010 that I turned to art in all seriousness,” he informs, “I am self-taught, learning from the street artists of Europe, getting inspired by the mystics who emerge in my subconscious, a residual memory of my days in the Himalayas.” Add to that the frenetic schedule he maintained, a prolific schedule of visits to the museums and galleries of the world, which he could combine with ease as he travelled heavily on the yoga mission.
From 2016, Bharat started exhibiting his works in solo and group shows. Bharat straddles the world of abstraction as well as figurative art with equal ease. What marks him out as a painter is his ability to channel his unique background and experiences into his works. Having spent many years with the spiritual adepts in the mountains and being one of them, he has both knowledge and access of the kind that is unprecedented.
Throughout his life, Bharat has been evolving a unique grammar of art, drawing from his incredible understanding of both the figurative and abstract genres.
As a multidimensional artist, he works with a wide variety of mediums for his paintings and sculptures. Bharat likes to find his own expression, untethered and unbound by convention. For him, no medium is too challenging and no subject is beyond contemplation.