“I assume big changes happen by taking small steps. I make sculptures to draw attention and consciousness of people towards the smallest miracles of nature, which we cannot see in our busy life. My aim is to grow sensitivity among people for nature, this sensitivity can change the perception of seeing everything in nature and we would start caring and connecting ourselves with it. I am very much attracted towards natural construction like Ant hills, termite mounds, wasp hives, desert rose etc. My research for work is to see the different possibilities of creating new forms inspired from nature. Technically speaking my works are all about the counter – play between mass and spaces like positive, negative and voids in an art work,” says artist Vivek Das.
What is your artistic background?
I have always been fascinated towards Art. In my childhood I recall, my birthdays were very special, those who knew that I love to paint used to give me colours and art materials. These were the result of a patient wait of a whole year for me. Slowly and gradually I felt confident enough to pursue my passion and accept my fate. I started the integral and minute lessons of art from Banaras Hindu University from where I received a degree but the most important thing that I gained from B.H.U. is gratitude towards Art.
What’s integral to the work of an artist?
Though there are many factors that contribute in art which we learn in art colleges or art related books but to me ‘Challenge’ is the word that motivates me to go for the next piece. When I am done with an artwork I try to accept a new challenge, whether it is about materials or colour or form or texture or subject it doesn’t matter. There should be some call from that side which is important to me.
What role does an Artist have in society?
Art has a legacy to prove itself as the finest medium of expression. It has been proven time and again by many revolutionary artists. Whether it is Picasso or Ram Kinkar. I feel, an artist just reacts to the circumstances in society but his reactions play a vital role in the socio-political or socio-psychological areas of the society.
What art do you most identify with?
I am deeply encouraged by ‘Constructivism’. Construction plays a vital role in my art practice and by construction I mean the freedom of addition and deduction to a plastic medium (e.g. clay, metal, paper etc.). on the other hand DADA art movement which opened the new doors of art for many who can see the beauty of a found object. It has attracted me profoundly. I find myself as a searcher beetle that is in search of such objects that can complement a work subjectively and objectively both.
What themes do you pursue?
I am very selective about the ideas that come to me in my daily life. To me being an artist is a significant responsibility, each and every idea that transforms into an artwork can deliver a great impact to the viewer. I have worked on socio-political issues like ‘The hollow foundation’ and ‘Bridging ruins’ which draws attention towards the social structure of the country. On the other hand sometimes I just want to see without any interpretation.
What’s your favourite artwork?
To be honest I am interested in the process of making rather than a finished work. When I am done with a piece it is for the viewers to enjoy or react. This state of mind helps me to experiment and experience more and more with great satisfaction.
Describe a real life situation that inspired you?
Art is all about perception-how you see the world, which leads to how you react. I remember an incident which really keeps me pushing to my limits. It was 2016 when I and my close artist friend Shashi Shekhar were working for upcoming group shows in Ranchi. We worked real hard on Terracotta sculptures. Facing many problems we gave these pieces to a local potter to get these fired, but while we were away, one of the neighbours of the potter broke the kiln out of some grievances. As a result we just got the broken pieces and ash. We looked into the situation thoroughly and understood the actual reason of this misconduct. It wasn’t the fault of that potter, jealousy always leads to destruction, the neighbour thought that he broke the sculptures, but we decided not to accept it. To us it was a complete installation. And we displayed these pieces giving a title ‘A state of mind’. This installation was our answer to the green mindset of the society. And the response was out of our imagination so we got great appreciation from the viewers. People tried to understand our vision of completeness which indeed is the greatest satisfaction for an artist.
Human psychology accepts that there are two kinds of people living on this world, one is calculative and another is creative. I accept myself as a creative person and an artist. And I am thankful for this gift from the Almighty.
What is an artistic outlook in life?
To me it is all about awareness. Awareness within you and awareness outside. This journey is not a pursuit of beauty. It is about seeing and perceiving with a watchful mind.
Is artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
Be alone, that is the secret of inventions. Be alone, that is where ideas are born-Nicola Tesla. Acceptance of oneself results in solitude. It is rather a solution than a problem. The best moments of my life are when I am talking to my work and it is responding.
What you dislike about the art world?
Corruption is rampant everywhere in our country which leads to exploitation of young artists in the name of contribution, this is really unfortunate. Most people believe that ‘fakers are the leaders’ today. That is the main reason of the downfall of great quality work.
What do you like about you artwork?
For the best cup of tea you need to pick the best leaves similarly I am very choosy with all the aspects of my work. I make it a point to spend time over an idea. So I like everything about my work without any doubt.
Should art be funded?
Art funding is a vast issue to address and this becomes indispensable as far as ‘Public Art’ is concerned. The term public art refers to works of art in any media that have been planned and executed with the specific intention of being sited or staged in the physical public domain, usually outside and accessible to all. This is very important as far as art education is concerned among people. Some governments actively encourage the creation of public art by developing ‘Percent for art policy’. 1% of the construction cost is standard, administration and maintenance costs are sometimes withdrawn before the money is distributed for art (eg. City of Los Angeles). Arts Queensland, Australia supports a policy for ‘Art + Place’ (2008) with a budget provided by the state government and a curatorial advisory committee. It is high time that the Indian government should create and support an art policy related to public art. It can really change the artistic scenario in India positively.
What role does art funding have?
Great creations are done at leisure. All the great writers, poets, philosophers or artists produced their masterpieces when they were monetarily free. Our museums in India are the testimony of it, where the greatest examples of art on the face of Earth are present. ‘Gupta’ period is known as the golden age of art in India. This is only because artists were commissioned by the royal court decently. They were encouraged for their participation of aesthetics and art. Art can only develop when there is support from the society and most importantly from the government.
What is your dream project?
I want to live in a sculpture designed by me which is surrounded by nature. That is my dream project.
Name three artists you would like to be compared to?
Parameter for success is different for each and every person. I think nature is the greatest artist one can ever imagine. I want to become as colourful as flowers, as silent as a mountain and a giver like a tree.
Favourite or most inspirational place?
I think anywhere alone in nature inspires me the most; I don’t need to go to any specific place for inspiration. It’s around me wherever I go.
What is the best piece of advice?
Becoming an artist is not to chase something out there, rather it is an internal journey better described as a perception. And an intense perception is lead by an intense soul. In ‘Shivsutra’ it is described as ‘ Chaitanyam Atmanam’ which means your awareness is your soul. As much as you become aware your soul becomes more powerful. And without an aware soul our perception just fades. To me being aware is the key to art.
Professionally what is your goal?
I am a multidisciplinary artist and I find myself as an experimenter, a seeker. I want to open new gates for others as far as medium and material is concerned. What you perceive is what you see it’s not about what you are told to see. I want to share a new vision for art.
Keep working and respond to the opportunities with awareness.