To most art connoisseurs, Viveek Sharma needs no introduction. He is India’s young and vibrant artist whose body of work is much sought after and widely acclaimed by both private and corporate art collectors in India and around the world. The immensely talented Viveek Sharma was born in Mumbai in 1968. He lives and works in Mumbai, India. He received his Masters from the well-renowned Old School of Masters – The J.J. School of Arts — in Mumbai in 1994. Since then he has held several solo shows and been part of numerous group exhibitions of national and international stature held in some of the leading countries around the world — from Switzerland, Germany, France, Italy, Hong Kong, to India and, most recently, earlier this month in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. We got in touch with Viveek Sharma to learn about his love for the Art and much more. Here’s a small insight into his life.
Tell us a bit about yourself. What attracted you to the field of artistry?
As a child, I had an interest in drawing. In about the 8th or 9th standard, I joined an art class with Mr. Rajaram with whom I started charcoal which, I then later mastered at the Sir JJ School of Art. Immediately after graduation, I worked with architects for a few years where I was commissioned to replicate the works of Klimt or Dali on interiors and furniture. I guess this is how I was so influenced by these artists and that’s what also attracted me to this fascinating field of art. I also did a solo show at The Leela in Mumbai titled ‘Urban Legacies’ in 1997. Later, there was a Japanese contract of Troubadour where I was chosen to create 10 pieces of 5 meters each.
After that, I took some time off to reflect on the possible direction of my next solo… during that time, I experimented a lot with charcoal, oils, sketches playing around with abstractions and metaphors. I also felt the need and a deep sense of interest to study the art world and my contemporaries.
My biggest influence was my dad. He always advised me to pursue the arts. He always supported my decisions and was quietly proud of my progress.
What is your earliest memory of creating art?
Generally, I would copy the cover page of my student notebooks — the ones that would have a picture on the hardcover! As I mentioned above, in about the 8th or 9th standard, I joined an art class with Mr. Rajaram with whom I started charcoal which I then later mastered at the Sir JJ School of Art. Those are some of my fond childhood memories.
A large number of your paintings are charcoal and oil based. Any particular reason why this is your preferred method?
This follows from my studies as a student of the Sir JJ School of Art. The foundation stresses very strongly on perfecting skills in sketching which forms the basis of an exceptional piece of work, MFH being an influencing artist. I was drawn to charcoal because of the detailing that can be achieved through this medium.
My choice for oils is an influence of the old masters and even here, I tend to think in Black and White before moving towards color.
Are there any artists in particular you idolize?
I have always been inspired by strong artists who have the integrity to retain their individualism and experiment with techniques and subjects.
The undeniable MFH… his strength in sketches and drawing and the strong application of colors have been a great influence. I had even done a portrait of MFH which is with a collector in Germany.I am a big fan of Salvador Dali… a surrealist artist, Dali also experimented with cubism and pointillism. As Andy Warhol credit Dali as was a big influence on Pop Art. He was enigmatic and eccentric but, he had an ability to translate his art into numerous mediums including film, sculpture, photography, and later jewelry, furniture, clothes, store windows and theatre sets. Another inspirational artist was Gustav Klimt… In addition to his artistic pursuits, he was committed to supporting young artists of all schools through the Vienna Secession exhibitions and periodicals
Your first solo exhibition launches this week. How does it feel?
This is not my first solo. My first solo exhibition in Mumbai was way back in 1997 at The Leela. And I have had several since then. I am not only a part of, but I live and breathe this overwhelming landscape of Mumbai… It has always been a source of inspiration right from my early years. It all began subconsciously I believe. I was residing in Chembur, just off the Eastern Express highway… at first, things were smooth, I guess I was oblivious to the background but then as time went by the constant noise became more and more apparent. It would disturb my every moment… day or night. I couldn’t work I couldn’t sleep and I was getting overwhelmed by the incessant disturbance. I finally looked for and found a new apartment… one morning I woke to realize that I had chosen a location that overlooks a church, surrounded by greenery and enough away from the main road that mornings and evenings are a relief from the chaos of daily routines. I think that this time my east facing window was the main inspiration for the light source that is a signature in all my work. I am attempting to offer the viewer a chance to reflect on the possibilities of changing the way we interact with art, whether it be in a gallery or at home.
The presentation of an exhibit on Sadhus will integrate sound and lights, thus re-inventing the experience of the canvas by creating an atmosphere of intimacy and focus. By guiding the eyes and ears, the visitor senses a new proximity to the subject. We want to draw the viewer in and create an experience of the senses.
What kinds of thoughts run through your mind when you sit down to paint?
My inspiration for a body of work comes through human interaction and when the subject or situation strikes a connect with me.
I will generally take time to think out various interpretations of the interaction and how to interpret my perceptions and this process is time-consuming and mentally undertaken.
Once I have settled on an idea, I tend to do a number of sketches and then I will move to Aquarelles and do what is known as a study. This allows one to consider or reconsider decisions of interpretation before moving to the canvas. All through the process, I keep myself open to the subject or the canvas communicating….hence very often when passing by a previously completed work, I will decide to either add or eliminate to the canvas. As an artist, one must be open to the possibilities of a canvas. Hence the amount of time spent with your work is paramount.
Artists tend to follow a certain routine when creating their works of art. Do you have a particular routine?
Music has always been a comfort in my life… As a child, I remember my mom being the musical influence for me. Therefore, it’s no surprise that I am drawn to the old classic singers of that era… Kishore Kumar. I generally burst into song in the car or it the shower or when alone in my studio as a stress buster.
How has your style changed over the years?
Until a few years ago, I was recognized for my metaphors. I still use the Sadhus as a metaphor for my current body of work. For every individual who is seeking that peace and quiet, that temporary respite from the endless noise… seeking ‘silence’ in this fast-paced urban landscape.
So the metaphor is not apparent but it still exists. I am drawn to representing the subject from my artistic perspective as best as I can whilst staying true to reality.
Realism is a technique that rejects romanticism of the subject. I sought to portray real and typical people and situations with truth and accuracy. Finding and observing the beauty in the ordinary and in the imperfections that make life complete. The movement from Photo Realism to Pointillism happened while working on my Silence, Please! series… I was in the process of completing Trance IV and I was struggling with the detailing as I felt that I was not able to fully capture the intensity and the texture of the skin and the detailing in the hair.
Art is open to interpretation. Are there any specific techniques you use to get your audience to see your point of view in a given piece of work?
I am mostly drawn to human subjects. I get most of my inspiration from the observation of all human interaction. The city is an environment constantly in flux and here I find I am drawn to the living and the art of living, social realities, and philosophies. I wish to tell simple stories that the viewer can immediately connect with. They can relate to and find meaning in the representations on the canvas. My travels have always been a source of inspirational ideas, the change of environment allows one to view chosen subjects from a distance and through varied perspectives. India with its history and culture has always been a fascinating complexity with its past and present, urban and rural, spiritual and physical, modern and traditional.
What is your message for your fans and aspiring artist?
I don’t think I could be so narcissistic to claim influence over any artists… that would be very personal to them. I will say however that the amount of work you put into a piece or body of work will always reflect directly on the canvas. I would tell the young generation that integrity in one’s work makes all the difference. Be Patient – communicate with your work. Take your time and don’t be in a hurry to complete your pieces. The more time you spend with your work, the more you will be able to translate your conversations onto the canvas. Sometimes you need to realize the importance of walking away from the canvas both literally and emotionally. Stepping back and taking time away allows for new perspectives and this will change the way you view the canvas as a whole. I would tell young artists that the chosen field of work is full of landmines, heartbreak, and frustration but there is no better influence on the Arts than life. In all, it’s honesty, beauty, and pain.