Jaideep Mehrotra has been a significant presence in the Indian art world for the past 4 decades and is considered amongst the country’s finest inventive contemporary artists. His work encompasses all traditional media together with cast resin sculptures, Gicleé prints, site-specific installations and video art. A pioneer of the digital medium in India as an art form, he has continually pushed the conceptual thresholds of his visual language with a mix of the traditional with the modern, the historical with the contemporary and a glimpse into the future.
Along with 23 solo exhibitions to his credit, he has participated in numerous group shows all over the world. Jaideep is frequently invited to schools, universities, institutions and corporations to conduct lecture demonstrations in art and in digital medium as an art form. His eclectic repertoire includes designing book covers to wine labels and his short films have been applauded at various art festivals and venues.
Jaideep has been a jury member of prestigious institutes and scholarship committees. He has been invited to participate in panels, workshops and art camps and has been widely represented in art fairs, auctions and national galleries in India and abroad. His works form part of illustrious art collections of corporates, homes, hotels and are installed at public spaces in Mumbai.
What’s your artistic background?
I am an Indian contemporary artist based in Mumbai, India. I started my artistic career with a solo exhibition at the young age of 13 in 1967. Despite having no formal training in art, I managed a parallel career of business and painting up until 1983 when I decided to make painting into my solitary profession. I have been a part of the art world for over four decades and have experimented with a variety of mediums and art styles in that time.
What’s integral to the work of an artist?
I think every artist needs patience, motivation and a hunger to keep going even when you or others around you don’t believe you can. Being a professional artist is a hard profession, and the only way to deal with the downs is by loving what you do with such a passion that you never want to give up.
What role does the artist have in society?
I think the artist’s job is to create only what moves them. Personally I feel any artist’s duty to society is simply to share their work with others, so they can also see themselves in the piece and take comfort in it.
What art do you most identify with?
I would say all forms of contemporary art since art is dynamic and reflects the current times.
What themes do you pursue?
I don’t like to limit myself to a particular set of themes, I tend to run with whatever inspires and excites me most at any given time.
What’s your favourite art work?
I think like my art, my favourites change with time. I can remember ‘The Persistence of Memory’ by Salvador Dali as one of the first works to inspire me, but since, I’ve added a lot more to my list.
Describe a real-life situation that inspired you?
Again, nothing specific but moments that get me thinking. They could be an incidence in the newspaper or any global phenomenon. If they impact me, I feel like I need to express it in my own way and bring it into a public space to encourage a dialog about it. It may be anything from life moving into a digital space to humans wanting to monopolize the planet.
What jobs have you done other than being an artist?
I worked in a variety of business roles until I became a full-time artist. I worked in jobs ranging from developing and selling garments to running a printing press and selling electronic equipment in India and abroad.
I didn’t choose art, it chose me. They say don’t do what you can do, but what you can’t not do.
What is an artistic outlook on life?
I think it is important to always try and see the beauty in things, imbibe as much knowledge and be aware of your presence on this planet. It’s easy to get caught up in how mundane life can be or how depressing things can be especially at times like this. But if we focus on the positive and the beauty all around us, it becomes easier to see life as though it’s something magical.
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
I cannot recall specific responses but always find it fun to hear what people think a work represents! I love hearing the conclusions people draw after seeing my work. I think it was Bansky who said that the life of a work begins with the conversation it brings about when people view it.
What food, drink, song inspires you?
I am inspired by many things in my life, including a range of foods and songs. Wines have always been a particular passion of mine. In terms of music I like all sorts of different genres, but some of my favourites are rock, jazz and Indian classical.
Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
Yes, there is an aspect of isolation in the artistic life, especially while you are in the process of creating. But I always try and balance this by spending time with my loved ones. I make sure to have every meal with my family and I keep specific days or special events aside to spend with friends and family.
What do you dislike about the art world?
I think every profession has it’s pros and cons. In the case of the art world, something that I personally find tough, is how difficult it is getting my works out there and having it seen by wider audiences. Displaying works outside of India, for example, is quite difficult due to a variety of restrictions.
What do you dislike about your work?
Every artist hates some aspect of their work, but I think at the end of the day I just have to keep working on it until I am happy with the result. It’s the hardest to do on days when motivation fails me, but it’s just a block to power through.
What do you like about your work?
It’s hard to pin-point exactly. Art fulfills me and helps me process things by taking ideas from my mind and putting them onto the canvas. If the work, in my mind turns out in a way that it surprises even me that is the most gratifying feeling.
Should art be funded?
Of course. Art is a part of life. Even the earliest known settlers drew on the walls of their caves. People make and engage with art as a way of dealing with feelings and aspects of the world which are otherwise difficult to cope with. Art is a part of human life and by funding it we can keep it alive not only in people who have the art bug, but also to share it with others who rely on art for comfort.
What role does art funding have?
Funding allows artists to take risks and helps them to widen their horizons and broaden their ideas. It is an investment and a gift for everyone in the world.
What is your dream project?
To have a work of art in an iconic frequently visited public space.
Name three artists you’d like to be compared to.
All artists are unique, comparisons are not healthy.
Favourite or most inspirational place?
I love being surrounded by nature!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
If you chase Saraswati, Lakshmi will get jealous and chase after you!
Professionally, what’s your goal?
I just want to create things that make me proud and that inspire others
Working on the next theme for the next show!