It was a vacation by the ocean. A lighthouse stood guard on one end of the shore as the waves sang their soulful song to anyone who wished to listen.
This is how Anuj Malhotra’s earliest tryst with art began during a childhood vacation by the sea. He remembers trying to capture the images of the lighthouse and the undulating waves using crayons and paper. Now a professional artist who works in the banking sector, he still believes that to be a brilliant artist, the willingness to experiment along with an openness to inspiration is essential.
Artflute’s Sridevi Padmanabhan had a chance to catch up with this reflective artist about his thoughts on art and life around it.
It’s always interesting to know about how an artist’s background has influenced his art? How did where you grew up and the experiences you’ve had shaped the art you make?
I was brought up in a very small town. I started dabbling with various forms of art right from when I was three and haven’t looked back ever since. The opportunities available to learn art formally were few and far between but I would grab any chance that came my way. In fact when I was seven, a young couple, graduates of JJ School of Fine Arts, started a night school for teaching the basics of fine art. I remember being the youngest in the class and loving each and every session that they conducted. It helped me get a grip on the basics of fine art.
I have since worked with a myriad of mediums such as clay, wood, sand, pulp, thermacol, and metal apart from the usual canvas and paper. I have also played around with other forms of art like sculpting, clay modeling, batik, carving and so on. Each medium and form has taught me very valuable lessons and given me insights into the potential that they hold.
What were your first steps to working with the medium that you’re working with?
I had mostly worked with oil paints till I discovered acrylics. I find it the most versatile medium. It can be used as a simple water colour along with a lot of water and it becomes completely transparent. It can also morph into thick oil paints or at the other end of the spectrum become almost like clay when it is used along with palette knives.
Not just that, it is also a challenging medium because it does not give the artist a chance for second thoughts because of its quick drying time unlike oils which can take days to dry. That’s why when I first started working with acrylics, I experimented with it in all its forms to get used to its versatility. It’s almost like taming a wild horse – it takes some effort, patience and practice to get it under control – but once it is under the rider’s command – it can really take one far.
How would you describe your art to a child?
Unlike most artists, I enjoy explaining my works in detail to all my patrons, whether young or old. I do not like untitled paintings ‘but also like keeping the interpretation of my works open. So, I make sure I name all my paintings, give a brief explanation and my inspiration for the work and its place in the series.
How do you juggle work and making art?
I have a full-time job in a bank but on weekends, holidays and even late nights, I dedicate myself to my art. I do not waste my time on television, whatsapp, Facebook and frankly if these three distractions were to be removed from any individual’s life, it will give anyone more than enough time to follow his or her passion outside of work. Besides, I truly believe that if you do not have any passion outside of work, it’s impossible to bring any passion into work too.
Have you ever had a period of being creatively blocked? How did you work through it?
There have been multiple occasions when I have felt creatively blocked. I have slowly realized that it is best to stop painting during times like this and involve myself in something unrelated like photography or cooking, both of which I thoroughly enjoy. In fact these days I feel that cooking is a more evolved form of art where two more sensorial dimensions are activated – our sense of smell and taste. It’s after breaks such as these that multiple creative solutions start flowing in when I get back to the canvas.
What can we look forward to from you next?
I am also an avid photographer. I am very keen on photographing birds and I have photographed almost all the well-known birds of India with the best of photography equipment. Some day, I plan to mix photography and painting and create unique forms of art.
Anuj Malhotra’s works are a result of a search for newer and better perspectives. His works symbolise to think beyond knowledge and embrace the power of imagination.
Click here to browse through Anuj Malhotra’s collection of works on Artflute.
Silent Echo – an exhibition of Anuj Malhotra’s paintings will be held between March 24-30, 2015 at Nehru Art Centre in Mumbai.