Govinder Nazran's Contemporary Art

Master of Fine Art

Govinder Nazran’s name may not be as well known as Picasso, Leonardo da Vinci, David Hockney or Andy Warhol but his contribution to contemporary art is outstanding.

As a cat lover, I was first drawn to his work when I discovered his unconventional paintings of cats. As I learned more about his styles and techniques and about the man, himself, I became a huge fan. Now he is my favourite artist.

Govinder Nazran’s Early LifeGovinder Nazran with his painting Blue MondayCredit: Terrie Plowman

Govinder’s art training began in Bradford, the North of England, where he studied graphic design from 1980-1983. He went on to study a Higher Diploma in Graphic Art at Lincoln Art College where he specialised in illustration.

On moving to London he worked on illustrations for children’s books before moving to Cambridge where he became a freelance illustrator.

He had a desire to return to his hometown, Saltaire in West Yorkshire and became a designer for a greetings card company, concentrating on product design and development.

Following that experience he became a photographic art director, directing fashion shoots all over the world.

He returned to his freelance card design with major publishing companies for the next five years when, in 1999, he entered the fine art market. From then on he became a respected contemporary artist.

Cats and Dogs

Fopdoodle by Govinder NazranCredit: Terrie PlowmanFlapdoodle by Govinder NazranCredit: Terrie Plowman

His distinctive style of painting cats and dogs is a combination of partly defined long rectangular shapes and partly abstract, with either reds or blues being the prominent colour. Some of his paintings are given a name, sometimes obtuse, until you delve deeper into the meaning and read the accompanying text. His paintings are not simple off-the-cuff pieces of art but something infinitely more challenging, often with definitions to provoke amusement. His two blue paintings of cats called, ‘Fopdoodle’, and ‘Flapdoodle’ are perfect examples. Fopdoodle means ‘insignificant fool’ and Flapdoodle means poppycock!

Govinder considers himself an eternal optimist and leaves the individual to try to connect with the paintings. In that way they will get the most out of them.

In his abstract paintings he believes, ’you can see nothing or you can see it all’.

Many of his paintings are about good and evil, about innocence and malevolence but it is up to the person viewing the painting to decide for himself or herself.


Govinder uses a variety of techniques, oil, giclee, silkscreen and has developed skills in sculpture too.

Japanese Influence

You are Everything by Govinder NazranCredit: Terrie PlowmanBlue Jeans and Sparkle by Govinder NazranCredit: Terrie PlowmanGovinder has always been interested in stretching his imagination and after two successful trips to Japan he added rich texture and layering in the form of sequins and stitching to his paintings. Two works in particular, both with vivid reds dominating and with full-length elegant Japanese women depicted, are a real example of this technique.

In ‘Blue Jeans and Sparkle’ there are seven cats subtly painted around the figure whilst in ‘You are everything’, there is just the one cat, but they are never very far away from his themes.

Both the colour and quality of his work are breathtaking in their detail and each time you look at the paintings you are likely to spot something you’ve never noticed previously. In ‘Blue Jeans and Sparkle’ you will find several small safety pins that are painted in such detail that you are forgiven for mistaking them as real safety pins. There is also a small skull and crossbones. They are intriguing paintings that constantly draw your eyes back and, of course, Govinder hasn’t left out the humour.

Daily Routine

As a freelance artist Govinder needs discipline. It is easy when working from home to find something else to do but routine and discipline are vital.

After getting up about 7.30am, listening to the news, giving attention to his daughter, Eden and then seeing his wife, Sarah, off to work he is in his studio by 9.30am. He always paints with music playing; music is central to his painting. He feels he can’t paint without it.

Before he goes to bed he will return to his studio to give himself ‘thinking time’ for his work.

The Beginning of a Painting

First of all, Govinder will do a rough, preliminary colour sketch. He keeps lots of sketches and notes of his many ideas. Once he starts the real painting he is very spontaneous. He manipulates the painting with his fingers, not brushes, so that the line flows. To him, flow of line and form are extremely important and he is always looking for connections between shapes. The end result will be part-defined, part- abstract. In his ‘pure’ abstracts he will look at nature and emotion for inspiration.

Blue Monday

His painting, ’Blue Monday’, is a studyBlue Monday by Govinder NazranCredit: Terrie Plowman in layerings of different vibrant blues. It has resulted in a 3-dimentional look from certain angles, giving hues and sparkled effects. Govinder called this painting,’Blue Monday’, because the music he was playing at the time was ‘Blue Monday’, by New Order, as he explained when I met him in a local art gallery. He is a naturally shy and modest man whose real personality reveals itself through his paintings. After a while he relaxed as he became more accustomed to the attention he was receiving from fellow art lovers who were admiring his paintings. 

Mollie Panter-Downes

The intriguing way he paints cats is depicted in the painting he calls, Mollie Panter-Downes. On a vivid red background he has created a long rectangular black cat with splashes of gold lea,f spots, lines and silver and red sequins. Yet it is unmistakeably a cat. You can see the white whiskers clearly.

The text shows the word,’Comiconomenclaturist’, which means a specialist in funny names. Govinder has the last laugh, again. And his philosophy is, ‘You either like it or you don’t.’

Mollie Panter-Downes by Govinder NazranCredit: Terrie Plowman

Sudden Death

Like a bolt out of the blue, the news of his sudden death at home, at the early age of 44, was announced at the end of December 2008. The art world was stunned by the news of this humble and talented man who had so much to offer to the nation.




Govinder Nazran, fine artist extraordinaire, had so much to offer through the depth of his paintings. For his many fans, it is a comfort that he has left a legacy of his work throughout the United Kingdom and further afield.

Govinder Nazran, Master of Fine Art, may have been a small man in stature but he was a huge man in both talent and potential.


Long may his paintings continue to excite!