Affliction got lucky!

by Tushar Rustagi
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Artists whose impairment became one of their ‘abilities’
It’s never about limbs and not always about the brains to identify or create/paint/draw/sketch beauty on the white canvas, calling out for the filling. This world consists of all types of human who have achieved equally or rather more of identity and appraisal in some cases, even after being incomplete; what the world has categorized them into. And not just sheets of canvas but carved their way out in every form that other artists have. It is difficult to make your weaknesses as your strength and some of us just give up before even trying, but there were certainly a huge number of people who couldn’t live as a dependent individual. Affliction was never in their body or life, but instead in their culture that couldn’t recognize them as their own and who tried giving a different path to walk on to all of them.
Why forms of art?
(Picture credits:, Esraf Armagan, a Turkish-based physically impaired artist)
This came into existence when the need of expressing their thoughts and ideas increased rapidly. Known as “Expression Therapy” in which people with physical impairment opt the method of art to express their inner voices in the form of the specified paths like art, dance, writing, music, drama, etc. Anyhow, it helped a lot of them to become something than just a nobody. This post refers to all the fields of art that extraordinary people have walked on and made their life better than it could have been left to dangle.
To start with the list of impaired personalities, we would like you to know about the artists-painters who either opted or continued their form of expression through painting and art. And to go as per the timeline, this will have from the oldest to the newer ones:

  • Tony Max – (1957)

He was born legally blind, with ten percent vision, because of congenital cataracts. His vision was improved by cataract surgery as a teenager, but the surgery eventually led to glaucoma and three retinal detachments. He still had significant vision impairments, but despite that, went on to become one of Canada’s most famous fine artists. As he says about his paintings: “My art captures the beautiful and vivid aspects of nature, emphasizing harmonious colors, patterns and dramatic compositions.”
If you wish to see more of his art and read about him, visit his site:

  • Sadhana Dhand – (1961)

(Picture Credits:, Sadhana Dhand)
Suffering from brittle bone disease, 57-year-old Dhand lost her hearing at the age of 12 and stands 3.3 feet tall. But, this affliction was not strong enough to stop her from pursuing her passion for painting, for which she has been awarded by the ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment for the ‘National Awards For Empowerment Of Persons With Physical impairment’ 2012 under the category of ‘Role Model Awards’. Apart from this, she has received many awards at the state and national level for painting and photography. She is now imparting this art to other students and conducts classes at her house. Not only this, she is an active social worker and donates to various organizations working with children with mental and physical affliction.

  • Ganesh Kumar – (1969)

(Picture Credits:
At the age of just one, he was affected by polio but despite his affliction, Ganesh started writing and painting at the age of just 3 years. Gradually, over a period of time, Ganesh lost the complete use of his hands and feet, thereby confining the mouth painting artist to a wheelchair for life. Slowly he began to use his mouth to write and paint.  He did not attend formal school but yet learned to read and write in English. Everything he does, is self-taught including mouth painting. At the moment Ganesh. Kumar’s work consists of over 3000 paintings. Ganesh Kumar has been a member of the MFPA since 1988.

Ordinary Information: What’s MFPA?

The Mouth and Foot Painting Artists Association (MFPA) is an international, registered society of disabled artists, wholly owned and run by the artists themselves to meet their financial needs. Members paint with brushes held in their mouth or feet as a result of a affliction sustained at birth or through an accident or illness that prohibits them from using their hands. The MFPA install in its artists, a sense of self-respect and dignity that comes from earning an independent, honest and secure livelihood through the sale of their artwork.
In India, the Association currently supports 20 member artists from across the country; The artists come from a diverse cultural background spread across the states of Maharashtra, Jammu & Kashmir, Gujarat, Uttaranchal, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Members work individually from their homes and regularly submit artworks to the Association.
These are few famous painters who are as famous as other painters are; who didn’t have any difficulty or physical impairment to be a major obstacle in the path to their desire to become something rather than just sitting on a wheelchair or use other machines to express and perform their activities with every upcoming dark day in their lives. Other painters like Vincent Van Gogh or Frida Kahlo are also a part of this list. Vincent was known to be patient of mental illness, which is also categorized under physical impairment. His last words were: “Sadness will remain forever”.
(Watch movies on Vincent Van Gogh to know more about his physical impairment and his life)
Link to Movies on artists – blog 
Whereas Frida Kahlo was known to be the most famous Mexican painter but only fewer or her paintings’ enthusiasts knew that she had polio in her childhood. One of her leg was shorter than the other and she had a tough time travelling. Yet she became someone that people still praise of.
Though painting is not the extent to which the art extends to, there were artists in the field of visual arts as well who couldn’t resist their passion towards it and became one of the famous personalities.

  • Benode Behari Mukherjee – (7 February 1904 – 11 November 1980)

He was an Indian artist from West Bengal state. He was one of the pioneers of Indian modern art and a key figure of Contextual Modernism. Also, he was one of the earliest artists in modern India to take up mural as a mode of artistic expression, and his murals display a subtle understanding of environmental and architectural nuances.
(Picture Credits:; Binod Bihari Mukherjee)
He was born with severe eye problem, being myopic on one eye and blind in the other, he continued to paint and do murals even after he lost his eyesight completely following an unsuccessful eye cataract operation in 1956. In 1974, he received the Padma Vibhushan award. He was conferred with the Deshikottama by the Visva Bharati University in 1977. He received the Rabindra Puraskar in 1980.

  • John Michael Callahan – (February 5, 1951 – July 24, 2010)

He was a cartoonist, artist, and musician in Portland, Oregon, noted for dealing with macabre subjects and had a sarcastic black humour for his audience. For 27 years until his death, Callahan’s work appeared in the Portland newspaper Willamette Week, whose cartoons occasionally led to boycotts and protests against the paper. He was clearly not been able to handle all the criticism but had an amazing way to comeback with a reply for all of them. Callahan scoffed at the reactions of critics who labelled his work politically incorrect, while he delighted in the positive reactions he received from fans with physical impairment.
(Picture Credits: )

“My only compass for whether I’ve gone too far is the reaction I get from people in wheelchairs or with hooks for hands.” Callahan said. “Like me, they are fed up with people who presume to speak for the disabled. All the pity and the patronizing. That’s what is truly detestable.” 

Is it all about famous painters around the world, who have gained recognition and are on their way to achieve their success dreams? No, following are the handpicked artists from our country who are on the threshold of the glamorous art industry, where their identity has already been painted on the walls of popularity and talent! They have not achieved as big as others are, whilst us hoping for the same, they are doing pretty well for themselves by establishing their own galleries and contributing to several galleries, across the country and around the world. 

  • Sreekanth Dubey:

(Picture Credits:, Sreekanth Dubey)
A famous name in the world of art; after an electric pole fell on him at the age of 14, Shreekant lost his right arm. He triumphed over his impairment by working with his left hand. Dubey prefers to work with watercolours on paper. The opacity in his watercolours has led people to believe them to be pastel. He remains a man with a personal vision. Currently employed with a Government school as an art teacher, he has a unique style of working. The eyes of his objects depict lots of hope, expectation, forgiving nature and ambition to rise in life. He has displayed his works earlier also in solo as well as in group exhibitions. A Limca Book of World Records Holder, he now plans to make it into the Guinness Book of World Records.

  • Amita Dutta:

amita2(Picture Credits:; Amita Dutta in her gallery)
Amita’s a natural artist and her inability to attend a regular art school didn’t prove to be a deterrent. The success story of coffee artist, Amita Dutta is symbolic of Gurgaon’s growing acceptance of innovative ideas. A hearing impaired painter, she practises the Art of Radiant Arabica a form that has coffee as the main colouring ingredient. Within the walls of her gallery, which already contain hundreds of her paintings, Amita invests over six hours a day, working with coffee syrups of various viscosities.

  • Balbir Krishan:

(A painting by Balbir Krishan showing a contrast in sexuality and Indian morals)
(Picture Credits: 1.; 2.
Balbir lost both his legs at the age of 21, but that didn’t deter him from pursuing a master’s degree as well as an M. Phil in Art History. He is also openly gay and says his art has been shaped by his personality. “My values never matched with those of my community back home. I also faced sexual harassment as a child. My art is a reflection of all that I had to go through”, he says.
(Find more about him in the following blog, on this website 🙂
Link to the blog post: “Movies on artists”
Blog on artists in the field of performing arts! – Coming Soon!
Beside them and other individuals, there were plenty of other organizations that opened up to join hands to help and hold their hands tight to fight off their kind of discrimination. To show that they are not dependent on anyone, to do anything. For instance like:

They are not dependent, they have brains and they know how to use them! They know their potential and they know their capabilities, they know that they might be lacking in number of resources, but they are brave enough to think more than others. They are the real competitors because if your opponent has the same things as you have, then you are no different. They are out there, everywhere. They do not ask for sympathy, they ask for equality. And even if you fail to execute that towards them, they won’t mind because they do not live for you like you don’t live for them.
aff(Picture Credits:
Bring it on!
Extra Read: For further inspiration!

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