3ft by 4ft.
Acrylic on canvas
Overcoming Illness with the Passion for Art
Kartikey Sharma’s story began in the first grade where he would draw a little paper plane on the top left corner of the paper he was writing on. His passion for art saved his life when he went through a series of life-threatening illnesses. In 2009, at the age of 17, he was diagnosed with by-cuspid aortic valve in his heart and second stage Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. In the hospital room, he read a novel for the first time, and also picked up a sketch book to start scribbling.
He was declared cured in 2010 and joined Symbiosis Institute of Technology to pursue Mechanical Engineering in Pune. He painted one 80 feet by 14 feet wall for the college festival. Over the years, this wall painting activity became a ritual. In 2013, he got a job but left it to stay at an artist’s house for 15 days, and learn everything he could about art. He dropped out of engineering to pursue a career in art but had to live without work and even proper food. The turning point was the chance to paint a wall for the brand REd-Bull. They made a video of Kartikey painting the wall and that became his best portfolio to ask for work. Then he found many opportunities to paint and even made his first commissioned canvas painting.
By 2016, he had painted 50+ walls. He founded his first company Jumbish Creations Pvt Ltd. on the 13th of February, 2016. On the same day, he was diagnosed with last stage relapsed Hodgkin's Lymphoma. He had to spend 3 years in hospital. He wanted to be remembered even after his death and started sketching vigorously, making at least, one sketch a day to document his journey. He even got paralysed twice.
In 2017, for a Bone Marrow Transplant, he was isolated in a room for 9 months. Despite pain, he produced hundreds of sketches and kept improving his skills. In 2018, he hosted his first solo exhibition, and was invited by TEDx GLIM to talk about being stoic. But life got tougher. One day, he couldn’t walk, and was diagnosed with Avascular Necrosis which caused pain in his hips while walking. He didn’t lose hope and learnt to get used to the pain. He started painting walls again.
In 2019, he started a campaign to paint the whole city of Pune named ‘Clean and Paint Pune’ aiming to paint 100 walls in the city. By now, he has painted 22 walls there. Two young painters joined the campaign and painted 27 walls. Despite the pandemic, he has painted walls all over India. In October 2020, he drove across 15 cities to paint walls for different clients. He painted his biggest mural for an organisation called St+Art where he painted a four-storey building in 10 days.
He has painted over 100 walls, hosted over 10 exhibitions and have sold more than half of his canvas paintings. He has been covered by all major media houses and got the opportunity to represent himself at ET-Now for the show ‘Leaders of tomorrow.’ He is to have a hip replacement in April 2021 and has been diagnosed with shingles and kidney stone. But nothing can stop him. He still sketches every day to document his thoughts in the form of art.
“Even when my doctors gave up on me , I think the fact that I wanted to succeed as an artist one day kept me going … All this was only possible because I refused to accept my life story to be just about suffering from cancer and its side effects … I still believe the best thing happening to me at the moment is that I am alive and I can make the most of it.”
- Kartikey Sharma