An Interview with Gunjan Shrivastava by Rahil

An Interview with Gunjan Shrivastava by Rahil

  1. When did you realise that you wanted to be an artist?
    I was drawn to art at a very young age and I would like to say naturally. My mother is an artist too so she had a major influence on me. Having said that, art is the epicenter of my life. It is the very reason for my existence. As a child even though I had guidance, I had a mind of my own. I would always experiment and not stick to the formal way of making an art work. So I knew very early in life that this is my calling.  I went on to take art as my subject, in which I did my PhD. After completing the Phd, I have been associated with the artistic field as an artist, an art critic, an art educator and a mentor to budding contemporary artists. It’s been a 2 decade long journey and a great experience so far.  I truly embrace this talent I have been blessed with and I hope I make a difference with my contribution to this industry in India and Internationally.
  2. What are the materials/mediums you use in your artworks?
    Like I mentioned earlier, as a child I always loved experimenting with my art and its materials,  it still continues. I feel it is a different kind of freedom that I have given myself unknowingly. I personally feel that art is beyond limiting yourself to anything that is formally defined. My choice of medium transcends and goes beyond the conventional. I can find my material in almost anything.  Though I might be partial to some materials. Lately, I have been using threads on paper, I find it fascinating as it resonates with adding life. I have had the opportunity to travel and work in the international markets and am completely amused by the artists there. Their inclination towards experimentation is inspiring. Working with artists abroad, and exploiting the freedom to choose unconventional mediums, is what keeps my approach towards art fresh. With that said, as all trained artists I started with conventional mediums like oil and acrylics. When I started, even acrylics were rare. But gradually,  I grew as an artist and I was exposed to different materials and understood their usability and how it can enhance your artwork in a certain way. Ultimately, my choice of materials or mediums depends on the subject and the way the medium allows me to deliver my idea.
  3. I have heard you use cyanotype which is a kind of blueprint. What makes you so attracted to this medium.
    Being an artist, one has to evolve and keep learning. I extensively use cyanotypes in my works. As cyanotype is a photographic technique, I can capture leaves and nature with it. I love the use of my hands in the making of works, the exposure of the paper to the sun, the excitement of its unpredictable result when I develop them. The whole process is surreal as you don’t know what all the natural elements are going to spell and what your art work is going to look like. Its multiple energies put to work to achieve something that you only closely imagined. Importantly, cyanotype is a sustainable way of creating art. And I support and promote sustainable art extensively. My belief towards sustainability has brought me closer to cyanotypes. I can today proudly say that I am one of the few artists who make cyanotype artworks in India and I have been facilitated by the Hon’ Governor of West Bengal, for my works.
  4. Your artwork closely resonates with the themes of nature, death and healing. What about these themes inspires you?
    Life! My artworks extensively capture life and different elements that influence life. Nature, death and healing are some of the elements that I have captured in my artwork. I am personally intrigued by life and its different aspects which I would say I have observed and experienced through my journey of life. And it is all that you have at the core which translates on the canvas. My collections like ‘Advaita’ and ‘The Natural Resurrection’ are all about nature and its various aspects. ‘Advita’ collection enwraps the five elements of nature-fire, water, space, air and earth, all those elements that make life. Though, ‘The Natural Resurrection’ is a collection that found its relevance in the pandemic as it talks about how nature in all its forms is elemental to humans and why we as humans need to coexist with it.I prefer to bring about something that is thought provoking and which can impact the viewers of my collections. I personally feel that every artist can do something about the issues we face in the world. If we have the power to reach audiences and change their thoughts then why shouldn’t we do something.
  5. You are the co-founder of the You Lead India Foundation. Can you please elaborate on its function?
    You Lead India Foundation was founded with a vision to nurture and support the youth from all walks of life. Youth who are going to be entrepreneurs, business owners, politicians, influencers and corporate leaders. We try to bring artistic exposure to the future leaders of India from all backgrounds. We in India are predominantly followers. It’s in our culture that we try to follow people, we look up to people as great examples. While it may not be wrong to do so, what is important is to make them realise their own powers, skills and acknowledge their capabilities at the right time. We work towards making youth their own leaders so that they can look up to themselves and become wise leaders.
  6. How has technology changed art for the new generation?
    Technology has changed art but I would also like to say that in a way it has invaded the traditional or natural way of experiencing art. I feel extremely blessed to have begun my art journey during the time when there was little or no influence of technology on art or let’s say on human life in general. It is a huge topic and I can go on and on talking about both the benefits and adverse effects of it. However, I would only like to say that as an artist it is our duty to keep the roots of our traditional way for experiencing or making art intact. Having said that, smart use of technology can elevate the whole experience of making and selling the art work.One thing I would like to mention is that technology has opened the door for every person who has some or the other talent to showcase. It is indeed a boon as you are no more completely dependent on anyone to showcase your talent and fetch you the right audience. Like I said, smart use of technology can lead you to become your own entrepreneur and your own influencer. It’s time that we embrace it tactfully.
  7. How has the Pandemic changed your ways of making art?
    Technology did not change my way of making art, but exposure to art online is something that added a new meaning in our lives. I have been following up on a lot of art that happens around the world and especially due to the pandemic stuck at home and unable to travel, I feel I am still able to connect and update myself with what is happening around the world in terms of art. I have connected with a lot of artists that I never knew existed all over the world. I think it is more so, it changed my perception of showing and viewing art.
  8. Do you think that art you made before the pandemic holds new meaning/significance in society now?
    Yes, art has always been a medium to influence society. Translating my experience through art and the communication I have with my art is something that is important for me as an artist. As I said, contemporary artists like us shoulder the responsibility to bring a change in society. My collection “The Natural Resurrection”, was something I conceived much earlier than the pandemic. Yet, it held so much relevance when I launched during the lockdown caused due to the pandemic because of its themes of healing and adjusting with new situation.
  9. Can you give our readers a hint on an upcoming collection?

    Of course! I am working on a new collection which explores the subject of boundaries. It is about boundaries that are imposed upon us such as man-made boundaries like the Lockdown. The Pandemic is imposed on us, this whole Covid situation is imposed on us. We never envisioned that this would ever come in our lives. This is the kind of boundary that limits us. The series also discusses other boundaries which are personal, which are self induced. In general, my collection reflects on this human struggle of boundaries within and outside ourselves.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

error: Content is protected !!