For Aditiya Singh, painting is an act of freedom, freedom from structured form, techniques and any notion that tries to confine his art within boundaries. Always a messy student, he says, “There wasn’t even a single class where I didn’t spill ink or put colour here and there. I never enjoyed painting class because I thought art was about drawing lines. My art would always go out of the line.”
The 25-year-old artist, who is having his first solo exhibition at Jehangir Art Gallery in Mumbai this week (October 16-20), says, “I have a connection with figures. I see figures and forms in rocks and Hampi for that reason is spectacular. When I paint, there is no pre-conceived design of elements. I scribble on a corner of the canvas, I speak to the canvas and it speaks back to me. It’s a free conversation, not forced. I see figures and then I take them out.”
Singh will be displaying about 50 of his art works at the exhibition.
His work is described as having a dream-like world and the colours used are bold red, black and white. “Red, black and white are my colours. I do lots of black and whites. And, then people tell me to add some colours. I ask, ‘Aren’t black and white colours’?”
Singh began painting with charcoal and that was also a result of happenchance. “I was preparing for my XII boards and generally feeling frustrated, so I started scribbling on paper. My friend saw my scribbles and then he asked me to go and get some charcoal. So I went to an art shop, came back with charcoal and made something. Then, my Dad (actor Kanwaljeet Singh) saw it and asked me where I had bought it from. I said, ‘I made it.” So he asked me to go back to the art shop and bring back charcoal and make something again. That’s how it started. It began as a hobby,” he says.
Later he quit his bachelor’s studies in mass media and studied Fine Arts at Rachana Sansad. “Though I have a degree in Fine Arts, I call myself a self-taught artist. I can’t relate to structured syllabi,” he says.
Singh, who works in watercolours, acrylic and mixed media, and is now playing with clay, says, “I like to dabble in mediums, but then again, there is no process to why I choose to work in a certain medium. Whatever I find first (painting tools), I begin painting with it. I don’t really have a preference in anything. My process is the same with all mediums.”
The artist has earlier displayed his works with the works of master artists like S H Raza and M F Hussain. “The experience was good,” says Singh, adding, “My paintings were all sold. I made some money and then the next day I flew off to view (Dutch) artist Vincent van Gogh’s paintings.”
When asked about his views on art fairs and biennale and how they have shaped him as an artist, Singh replies, “I wouldn’t let myself be caught up in one piece of art or painting. I won’t stare at a painting for a long time because I don’t want to be influenced. I glide through paintings. I know that I have capabilities, I have learnt enough.”
This is what he also tried to pass on to his students in the week-end art classes that he conducted. “I taught for two years. Of late, I have been concentrating on my exhibition, so I haven’t been able to teach at the classes. Is it possible to teach painting? I would say that we are teaching them to be creative than teaching them how to paint. In our curriculum, which I am not particularly fond of, there are steps, rituals on how to paint. My process is fun. I ask the kids to apply colour on a string and start shifting it on the canvas, blow colours, drop them on canvas and use their hands. Enjoy life and express their emotions. More than teaching them to paint, I want them to have a smile on their face,” he concludes.
ST READER SERVICE
Aditiya Singh’s paintings are on display at Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai from October 16-20, 10 am - 7 pm