One summer day in the nineties, Rajiv Popley, now the promoter-director of Popley Group — a lifestyle and jewellery retailer — packed a few clothes and a little money into his backpack and set out. He travelled outside Mumbai, across the coastal towns of Maharashtra, to finally find his home for the rest of the summer — a room in a beautiful fisherman’s alcove by a shack. Looking out of the window, he found his muse — the storied walls of an old fort against the background of a lush forest. So began Popley’s journey in art, with his easel, brushes and paint for company.
From here, there was no looking back for Popley, who went on to unleash his passion on the canvas. During his travels, he would soak in the sights and his experiences and then, once back home, he would revisit those cherished moments in oil paint.
Fast forward to a few decades later. Now 39, Popley manages a big business house in the frantic, hazy city of Mumbai. But the dust-laden city hasn’t blurred his vision, nor sucked his spirit. Whenever he finds the time, Popley withdraws into his beautiful apartment in Juhu — almost a retreat with its stunning silence and rare views. Sitting by a large French window, he sets the mood for art. “Of course, there is my wife, who always inspires me to paint,” he says. It is the same story at his house in Lonavla, which, with its scenic views, makes for the perfect getaway. “Painting takes me away from the routine — it takes me to a different zone altogether,” he says.
For Popley, creativity is all around him. Even at work, despite all the pressures of the business, he deals with fine jewellery and international luxury houses such as LVMH and Swatch, which inspire him to think creatively.
His artful sojourn began with water colours and then he ventured into the world of oil paints. He would initially paint only scenes from nature, later slowly graduating to abstract expressions as well. “It sometimes takes me around a month to finish a painting, depending on my mood and the subject of the piece,” he says.
Popley admits that given his schedule, it’s not easy to find time to pursue artistic pleasures. “But I am trying to get back to that discipline again. There’s no feeling more fulfilling than personal expression. When I do make the time, it is worth it,” he says.