Challenged, but only by my art
Nadeem Shaikh was born without arms but that hasn’t stopped him learning to paint with his right foot. His art has been exhibited and used on greeting cards, calendars and bags. Suhit Kelkar meets him
Nadeem Shaikh deftly opens a tube of poster paint and squeezes out a smidgen of turquoise blue on to a palette. Next to it, he adds a dollop of aquamarine and expertly mixes the two colours to get just the right shade. Smiling, he picks up his paint brush and begins creating a piece of art, using bold strokes on a large sheet of paper in front of him. Within minutes a striking image of a paradise island complete with swaying palms and golden sands emerges.
Nadeem, 19, leans back to study his work and nods his head, satisfied. It mayy not be a masterpiece but what sets this artist apart is that he paints with his toess as he was born without arms. Since he began painting when he was nine years old, he has produced startling works, many of which have been reproduced on greeting cards, calendars and bookmarks,s, They are sold by the Indian Mouth and Foot Painting Artists (IMFPA), a chapter of the international organisation that trainss and supports physically challenged artists.s.
Sitting on the floor of the one-room shanty in north Mumbai that he shares with his mother, two sisters and two brothers, the young artist deftly opens his flip-top mobile phone with his toes to show more of his paintings. Along with scenic pictures, there are impressivee portraits of Bollywood stars like Shah Rukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan and Hrithik Roshan.
“I love painting and am hoping to make this my career,’’ Nadeem smiles.
Seeing his paintings, several of which have been displayed in exhibitions organised by IMFPA, it’s hard to believe he’s done them all with his feet. “Depending on the complexity of the work, I can complete a painting in a day,” he says.
Nadeem’s condition is called amelia, in which an individual is born without limbs or they are only partially developed. In Nadeem’s case, he has only stubs at the shoulders. His doctors suspect it could be the result of a genetic mutation or a bacterial or viral infection he contracted while in the womb. None of his siblings or parents have the condition.
Nadeem says he’s relieved that he doesn’t have the worst degree of amelia – tetra-amelia, where babies are born with no limbs.
His parents were initially worried about him, but he easily adapted, learning to brush
Nadeem learnt to paint at shool and dreams of making it big in the art world