Born in Epsom in 1973, contemporary figurative and abstract artist-to-watch, Nadeem Chughtai enjoyed his childhood growing up in Worcester Park, South London and showed much early promise with his drawing and sketching according to family and friends. His mother in particular encouraged her son to draw, whilst Chughtai believes that his talent was inherited from his father’s side, who even today the artist will go to seek approval from in terms of his compositional pieces as it’s his father’s knowledge and constructive criticism which Chughtai values above and beyond all others.
Alongside PE, Chughtai’s favourite lesson at school was, predictably, art, and was again actively encouraged to perform to the best of his natural abilities in the subject dear to him by two exceptional secondary school teacher who he remembers fondly. Both Ms Robertson and Ms Slack showed a young Chughtai a particular image before he embarked on his Art A-Level which he insists inspired him when deciding on his final piece, with the actual image conjuring up an intense atmosphere and pictorial mood which Chughtai stresses bears a strong influence on his contemporary work.
On completion of his A-Levels Chughtai headed for Epsom School of Art and its art foundation course which enabled him to obtain a broader picture of all of the far-reaching subject’s spectrum of disciplines; which in turn gave rise to the aspiring artist following successful completion of this course with a period of advanced study at Northbrook College in Worthing, where he applied himself to an illustration course. Although the latter experience wasn’t all that it cracked up to be from Chughtai’s perspective, he does mention student life in Brighton more than compensated for any course shortcomings.
Perhaps the biggest singular setback was being told by his tutors that he wasn’t that good at drawing in the event and that he might wish to consider an alternative career path. Despite gaining top marks in his life drawing class, Chughtai had been unfortunately put off the subject, and although never doubting his own ability he instead opted to pursue a potential career in photography, with a view to becoming a film-maker somewhere down the line.
But then things took a turn for the much better in the summer of 1997 when Chughtai managed to secure a work experience placement at the world famous Pinewood Studios. Holed up in the studios’ art department, Chughtai found himself otherwise visually engaged in the artistic production of scenery and background settings for a new feature film; entitled ‘The Avengers’. Although an unpaid position, Chughtai remained there for six weeks in total, immersing himself fully in every aspect of film making. It was during this once in a lifetime opportunity that Chughtai observed first hand how set designers would involve themselves in such illustratively demanding tasks as creating the graphic likeness of London’s Trafalgar Square on a 700ft wide and 40ft high strip of canvas for example. Suffice to say Chughtai’s kind was suitably blown by the whole experience.
Chughtai was invited back and offered an apprenticeship, as the studio obviously witnessed both his artistic skillset and raw emthusiasm for the subject matter and it wasn’t long before he was working under the watchful eye of revered set designer, Steve Mitchell on the set of (then) forthcoming movie, ‘101 Dalmations’. They quickly developed a good working relationship and Chughtai remained an integral part of the design studio for the next five years, working on a collection of big budget flicks which we’ve all heard of. These included, ‘Alexander, Love Actually, Johnny English, About A Boy, James Bond’s Die Another Day’ and a small feature film that didn’t amount to much going by the name of, ‘The Bourne Supremacy’.
With the film industry renown for being fickle and fast-moving, not knowing when or even where the next job will materialise (if at all), Chughtai’s partner suggested that he got himself some art studio space in 2003, remembering that all the time he’d been carving a career for himself in the film industry (albeit behind the scenes) he had been practising his first love of art illustration, and the drawing and painting of several personal pieces in his quieter moments. It was at this juncture that Chughtai’s art took on a life of its own, and encouraged by feedback from friends and family decided to try his hand at exhibiting what he’d created.
Gaining a good response and going on to showcase his expanding portfolio near and far, it was in 2005 on the back of exhibiting a selection of his work at an art fair at Birmingham’s NEC that he first caught the attention of Washington Green. In their professional capacity of one of the country’s foremost fine art publishers they immediately saw Chughtai’s potential and negotiated a deal with him that resulted in them representing the artist commercially, and moreover affording him the exposure that his work was crying out for in far broader circles, via their network of associated and in-working galleries across the UK.