From the land of mystic mysteries and divine blessings, Bhavya Agarwal is a Varanasi-based mixed media artist, designer for children and a pastime thinker. Originally a toy and game designer, she has blended her artistic pursuits with design skills to push forward a perfect mix of both passions. “My works emanate stylized inspirational portraits that foster the healing power of art by lifting our spirits. Since an early age, I have been a recipient of various awards in school and was fortunate to bag several awards at National Level competitions. Exhibiting works at group exhibitions with a thirst for continuing my endeavors has been extremely motivating for me. My evolution into art has allowed me to create an experimental dynamic body of works with an expansive perspective while challenging technical boundaries. I strive on utilizing visual textures to tell stories, exploring the depth of movements and compositions. My highest goal is to keep creating artworks that indulge the viewer’s body, heart, and mind into taking a pause for a moment and sinking in the state of semi consciousness,” she says.
What’s your artistic background?
My hometown is Varanasi, a city older than traditions. I pursued a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts from Banaras Hindu University. When I look back, I remember ghaats as my second home, the campus as my world of imagination and drives to hospitals and temples as mobile studio spots for sketching. Thanks to the institution that provided me with an environment that blended art and life together. And we all know how such a mix brings about vivid and unexpected expressions.
What’s integral to the work of an artist?
I strongly feel intuitiveness that comes from within is integral to the work of an artist. It’s pure, individual and one of a kind.
What role does the artist have in society?
In the world as a theatre and artist as a character, I perceive that the role of the artist and his art is to start a dialogue, a conversation among the audience. You see people talking but in reality that is the moment when your art is speaking.
What art do you most identify with?
I am inclined towards black and white as it captures the essence of art in its truest form. I love dynamic shapes, rhythm and movements. I mostly identify myself playing and experimenting with charcoal. Generally, I would make something aesthetic and eye-pleasing then spoil it to let the painting gradually reveal itself through layers.
What themes do you pursue?
In my practice, the themes are ever-shifting. My current works depicts subjects such as peace, liberation and freedom. The meaning of words is interrelated yet every individual has a different way of coming to their own conclusions. An interesting point to observe is that something that could bring comfort to someone cause discomfort to another. So, is it subjective? Is it contradictory? The search is on.
What’s your favourite artwork?
My favourite artwork is the water lilies by Sir Claud Monet, the series that was debated as devastatingly dull in its first unveiling, leading to the death of the artist. It is ironic that the same painting is now considered the Sistine chapel of abstract expressionism.
Describe a real-life situation that inspired you?
I remember at the age of 12 when I felt a void and asked for a drawing book to sketch. Since then it was an off and on relation with art, but somewhere I knew this is where I belong. Whatever I do in my life or whichever path I am on, I gravitate towards art naturally. I think it is where I can be myself, make mistakes and never get questioned by anyone.
What jobs have you done other than being an artist?
Along with being an artist, I love to design for children. I am a freelance toy and game designer, a postgraduate from the National Institute of Design, Gujarat, where I studied industrial design, with majors in toy and game design.
Art is freewill and knows no boundaries. It is a language that speaks sensitivity, where there is no wrong or right. That intrigues me.
What is an artistic outlook on life?
The outlook I have about life is finding my way which is universally expressive at one end and deeply personal at the other. Also, the sitcom, ‘This is Us’ says, “There’s no lemon so sour that you can’t make something resembling lemonade.”
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
I have a lot of encouragement and support from family, friends and the creative community but such a priceless response is yet to be received. It is a moment much awaited.
What food, drink, song inspires you?
Even at the expense of sounding clichéd, I would say ‘ghar ka khaana’ (home food). Loud, cheerful and upbeat fun music stirs me; One Direction is my guilty pleasure.
Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
I would not say ‘lonely’. Yes, we work in isolation, but it balances out when one has an amazing bunch of friends and a super adventurous family.
What do you dislike about the art world?
The uncertainties and grey areas.
What do you dislike about your work?
Honestly, I leave it on the critics to do the talking here.
What do you like about your work?
I love to experiment and wait for the result but when it gradually makes an impression on the viewer and one really ‘feels’ the painting. That is where I find true bliss.
Should art be funded? What role does art funding have?
Art should be funded as it drives the creative industry, strengthens the economy and has a huge social and political impact on society. Yes, it is needed to preserve our heritage but what about the current stories painted that vanished in the blues. How many stories of successful current generation artists do we have to narrate to the coming generations? To make them learn, inspire and believe in art as a career path…
What is your dream project?
I hope to become a well-established artist with an ever-evolving mindset and ever-growing skills.
Name three artists you’d like to be compared to.
I wonder how every artist gives a part of themselves to the art they create which is unparalleled and irreplaceable. They stand out in their own special ways.
Favourite or most inspirational place?
I vividly remember my visit to magnificent ruins of Hoyasaleshwara and Kedareshwara temples at Halebidu. The art depicted via soapstone is breathtaking. The beauty in complex details, sculpture intricacies and pictorial narrations is captivating and unforgettable.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Never regret anything that once made you smile.