Kavita Nambissan Ganguli is a self-taught artist. She attended Triveni Kala Sangam in New Delhi to pick up the basics of sculpting under the tutelage of Ms Saroj Jain. Below is a brief interview of Kavita, whose works are also on display at the “Desi Canvas”.
Ashish (A): What is the story behind the artist Kavita N Ganguli?
Kavita (K): For the longest time in my life, I was very unsure about the direction my life was taking. Even though I began my career as a software engineer, I knew this was not my journey. As a child, I was never keen on art, and I don’t really know what prompted me to take up the pencil and brush. The one thing I have always done, and still pursue with enthusiasm, is reading. Perhaps it was the capacity of books to transport you to unimagined places and situations that made me explore the idea of using a different medium. But once I did, there was no looking back. Coming from a non-art background might have made the road harder for me, but it has also given me the benefit of an additional perspective in the way I approach my art. So, while I took the long road, I am still glad I’m finally heading in the right direction.
A: What inspires you to put your energy into art?
K: My slow start with art ensures that I am always trying to produce as much work as possible. I feel like I have a lot of catching up to do. I want my work to capture the viewers’ attention and force them to think. All the artists who are an inspiration to me have made me pause and take my time to process their work, and I want my work to do the same. The ability to be able to produce inspired thoughts in the viewer is definitely a goal of mine.
A: How do you see the economics of art in India?
K: As someone who isn’t actively pursuing the fine arts train of thought, my knowledge about the economics of art is limited. At this moment, I am still trying to explore as much as I can. But I believe that like the economics of most other things, art has some identifiable patterns. The value of a piece is rooted in several factors, with the level of skill being just one of them. Understanding all these parameters can be exhausting work and requires the same devotion that setting up a business or brand does. With access to several platforms for exposure, artists today are not limited to the standard channels of achieving economic success in the field. I think there is a shift in the way younger or newer artists approach building the value of their brand and their work.
A: What materials have you used in your work which are on display at the “Desi Canvas”?
K: The materials used in my pieces include resin and stones. The stones were collected by me from a river bed in the Kumaon region, while I was on vacation. I love the idea of blending nature into my work, both conceptually and physically.
A: You seem to take inspiration from mythological stories. Can you tell us more about it?
K: I have always been a big fan of mythology, irrespective of region. I love the ideas of these fantastic stories that people have passed down over generations – each one taking their meanings back with them. For me, they are a doorway to unimagined lands and people. They allow me to build on their root ideas and make something more out of them. I like the idea of giving form to a mythology while adding my own elements to it.
A: As an artist, what do you think needs to be done in order to reach out to more people?
K: I think in today’s hyper-connected world, reaching out to more people requires consistent effort to promote oneself on multiple platforms. While many artists tackle relevant social situations or create shocking work to garner attention – both of which are perfectly valid means – I feel it’s important to work towards a unique personal style. This helps people identify your work better. Trying to work in collaboration with not just artists from your field, but any creative person, is also a great way of producing memorable work. But staying true to your style and how you want your art to be perceived is important.
A: Who is/are your favourite artist(s)? And why?
K: Growing up, Asterix was one of my favourite comics simply because you could spend hours on a page, delighting in all the small details Alberto Uderzo put into the panels. Some other artists that bring immense joy into my life include Sergio Toppi, Mike Mignola, Egon Schiele and Moebius, amongst others. Walking away from the works of any of these artists fills me with inspiration, wonder, and pure joy.
A: Is art limited to some classes in India? If so, what are the reasons behind it?
K: Art, in general, does not share the universal appeal of utility driven industries. It is also harder to predict success in art, mainly due to the lack of easily available numbers from the economic side of art, and also the high starting investment. This makes it a difficult choice when considering it as an investment unless you spend enough time studying the industry and getting all the data required. To top it off, the lack of clear success in art as a career, the stereotype of the starving artist – all of this make it an unpopular choice amongst the middle class in general.
I also feel that society, in general, is shaped towards appreciating possession rather than the actual value of a thing. It takes a different level of exposure and style of thinking for people to appreciate the true value of art. This is not encouraged in our children, as stereotypical success is placed above everything else.