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Dinesh Palipana by Khushi Patel

Dinesh Palipana

Khushi Patel

About the artwork and sitter

Dinesh Palipana was the first quadriplegic medical intern in QLD, and is now a celebrated doctor, lawyer, disability advocate, and author.

Here, Dinesh is pictured leaning against medical equipment in the ER room in vibrant colours.

‘I have painted Dinesh through an impressionist lens as I see Dinesh like this. He is full of light, colour and hope.’

The portrait aims to capture Dinesh’s incredible achievements through a vivid colour palate that references both the artist and sitter’s rich cultural heritages.

About the artist

Khushi Patel is an artist and second-year dentistry student based on the Gold Coast.

A passionate artist from an early age, they have placed as a finalist in a number of early-adolescent competitions, including 3rd in the national write4fun art competition.

“This is the first painting where I feel privileged to be different."

Behind the scenes

It was my second class of anatomy and my tutor was teaching us about spinal cord injuries. She happened to mention Dinesh Palipana and how he taught at the uni hospital. After also being roasted by my friend Bella, who told me I study too much and uni isn’t year 12, the idea sprung on me that I want to paint a masterpiece.

After meeting up with Dinesh and starting the drawing I couldn’t escape him. I would wake up in my tiny university accomodation room and the massive painting of Dinesh would be there. I went to uni and I would see him on our uni login website and then he would be on every single poster. I think I memorised his face by now. It took me a solid 9 months to paint him. 

Although I had to sacrifice the typical life of an 18 year old, it was completely worth it, Dinesh has beyond inspired me with his kindness and I hope that I have this same warmth when I start seeing my own patients. The painting is extremely intricate and turned out much better than what I envisioned. I also included his heart rate of when he was in hospital on the medical equipment he is leaning on to show how far he has come.

I believe this painting stands out as Dinesh and I both agree on the fact that it doesn’t matter what race, age or circumstances you are in, if you stay hyper-focused and be a light to those around you, you can achieve a lot. I know, as a kid, I was often drawn to portraits as I felt extremely uncomfortable being brown and wanted to understand what beauty was. This is the first painting where I feel privileged to be different.