Basharat Bashir

Emerging Artist: A brief interview Mahesh Chand

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Indian art has undergone a series of transformative shifts, evolving from its traditional and religious roots to embrace Western influences. While deeply intertwined with cultural and religious facets, the profound impact of British colonial rule played a paramount role in shaping the trajectory of art in the subcontinent. The indelible mark of Western influence initiated an irreversible process, despite intermittent efforts by artists and activists to reorient the artistic current back toward its traditional essence.

The global embrace of Western art emanated from its ability to grant artists unprecedented freedom. With the establishment of art schools by the British in major Indian cities, local artists were exposed to this style. Consequently, every art movement originating in the West subsequently reverberated through the realm of Indian art. Many artists adeptly embraced the Western painting style to portray distinctly Indian themes.

Artists naturally seek a style that can aptly convey their ideas, and adopting a Western or otherwise disparate approach is not inherently problematic. Nevertheless, a certain uneasiness among art critics prevails, lingering in the acceptance of such works as uniquely the artist’s own. Artists are both creators and innovators; hence, borrowing a style or technique can potentially impinge on the authenticity of an artwork. However, this has not thwarted numerous successful artists who, despite being influenced by or adopting Western art, have managed to wield artistic dominion not just within India but also in the Western world.

Delving into matters of style and technique, one encounters artists who appear less fixated on literal representation and instead prioritize the conceptual. In a recent dialogue with the emerging artist Mahesh Chand, it dawned on me how a concept can seamlessly metamorphose into a nuanced expression. Mahesh’s unassuming portrayal of intricate themes renders his work accessible to the collective mindset. He draws limited inspiration from established art movements or styles. His sole aspiration in his artistic endeavours is to crystallize his message without any hint of ambiguity.

Mahesh Chand is a Delhi based artist, currently working as an art teacher in Delhi. A passionate artist who has been practicing art since his childhood. He is a painter, muralist, graffiti artist and art educator. Here is the brief interview of the artist ‘Mahesh Chand:

Briefly introduce yourself and your artistic journey?

I am Mahesh Chand, artist from Delhi and I am passionate and practitioner of art since my childhood. I pursued BFA in painting, from College of Art, New Delhi in 2012 and Masters in fine arts Painting from Jamia Millia Islamia New Delhi in 2014.

How did you discover your passion for art, and what motivated you to pursue it seriously?

As I said I was passionate about art since my childhood. I was driven to art, I find it a profound medium for expressing my views, concepts, and thoughts. Possibilities in art are infinite, it’s par from linguistic barriers and it allows freedom that no other medium of expression does.

what challenges did you face during the initial stage of your artistic career?

I mostly faced financial issues during my initial career as an artist. I belong to lower middle-class family and in cities like Delhi if you come from such background you have to curtain some of your extra demands and stick to basic requirement. Like I had to paint on easily affordable material rather going for more standard and expensive ones and painting small canvas instead of large ones.

What themes or subjects do you frequently explore in your artwork?

My themes are mostly Social, political, and environmental, but I also explore themes related to surrealism, conceptual art and other emerging art trends around the globe.

How would you describe your artistic style?

Most of my work depicts social, political and environmental issues. I intend it to be understandable to large audience without any hidden or ambiguous meaning and for that reason I prefer to work in semi-realistic and realistic styles. To understand concept of my paintings you do not need be a trained art critic

Who are your artistic influences? How have they shaped your creative approach?

I am not influenced by any particular artist or art movement. There is always something to learn from each artist from the past but, I prefer to stick to my own style that I think conveys my message more profoundly.

How do you strive to make your work unique and distinguishable from others in your field?

I would not say that my work is unique and I do not intend to create a unique work. My whole artistic approach is defined by the concept that I want to share with my audience, I don’t think I need to be unique in doing so. What I believe I need my work to be is precise.

Can you walk us through your creative process, from idea generation to the finished piece?

My creative process starts with observation. Observing the relationship between myself and everything around. The happenings the news, the noise, everything that defines my present and anticipates our future. Once the idea is generated no matter how complex, then I try to give it a simplified visual representation.

How do you handle creative blocks or periods of low inspiration?

Traveling has been very important, whenever I feel empty and disassociated, and out of artistic urge to create I travel. And telling from my own experience it works. Apart from travelling sometimes watching good movies has also helped me to overcome creative blocks.

 What mediums do you prefer to work with, and why?

I prefer acrylic colours, its more advanced, non-stinky, and easy to use medium. It blends perfectly with my style and approach.

What has been the most challenging project you have undertaken so far? How did you overcome the challenges you faced?

I will not say challenging but yes when working on murals on public spaces you have to deal with unexpected hitches. If there is a problem while working in your studio or outside, just stick to your concept use your skill and get it back on track.

What role do online platforms and social media play in promoting and displaying your art?

Social media has certainly been beneficial. When you exhibit your paintings in any gallery most people who visit you will most probably appreciate your work.  People who are around you and who know you try to sweet talk, their views and comments can be biased.  On social media your work is seen by people who have no contact with you whatsoever they are free to criticise or appreciate your work. I think in this case social media seems to me more sincere and it certainly has expanded the reach of an artist to huge audience.

Who do you create your art for? What kind of audience do you hope to resonate with?

My paintings are for everyone, from common people to art enthusiasts, critics to activists. Everyone around the world is my audience.

How do you measure the impact or success of your artwork?

To me the success of my art work is when I am satisfied with it, the response of audience and financial gain comes later. If my work sincerely conveys the message as I presumed than its good I have achieved what I wanted.

 The art world can be unpredictable in terms of financial stability. How do you manage and navigate through uncertain economic situations, and what strategies do you employ to ensure a sustainable income while pursuing your artistic passion?

That’s true life of most of artists is not a smooth run. I too faced financial instability on various points in my career. And I opted for art teaching job for my financial stability and to continue my artistic practice. If art market is down and you are not getting enough support to carry on your artistic career and needs of those who depend on you, there is no embarrassment in choosing a job to ensure your financial support.

What advice would you give to budding artists who are just starting their creative journey?

Be honest, its important, there are no shortcuts, you need to develop your skill along with your creativity and thought process. Thankyou.

Mahesh Chand has exhibited his work in various group shows across the country, he has also had solo shows in prestigious galleries in Delhi.  He has also received many awards and honours including the ‘Best Entry Award’ of ‘Camel Art Foundation Competition’ oil painting category at AIFACS, New Delhi, Feb 2014.

Mahesh can be reached at: [email protected], Instagram : mahesh_chand_24



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