Folk art around the globe has always captured the life and times of people across ages in their most simple, primal, and relatable forms. Whether is it the fascinating representation of nature or painting people indulged in their mundane work — the rich colours and subjects have the power to tell many stories with a hint of nostalgia. And the recently concluded art exhibition, Natura by veteran painter and animation artist Dhimant Vyas at the iconic Jahangir Art Gallery in Kala Ghoda carried these influences beautifully. Along with traditional Indian motifs, the artwork had a touch of Incan and South American influences telling the stories of the coexistence of human and nature’s elements with 3D technology.
Dhimant uses folk art and colours to express his fascination for nature, communities, and people around the world. The joint exhibition of Vyas and his daughter Kavya were rooted in authentic expression. While Vyas depicted his own experiences with communities through his artwork, Kavya’s paintings, on the other hand, were focused on self-realisation and many emotions expressed through the motifs of fishes.
“The Natura style of painting is an expression of my silence and moments of oneness with mother nature. My art is the representation of the stories I hear, the literature I read, the music I listen to, the sounds that fill my days, and nostalgic life experiences that have stayed with me, have coalesced to take a visual form of the Natura style of paintings,” says Vyas who has been working on this style of artwork since 1996.
Growing up in a family of artists who were involved in making temple idols, Vyas says that art is in his blood and he always liked to learn and experiment more with his artwork. “I have been pursuing art since my childhood. I took formal education in art where I learned many things and how I can experiment with my work. I have always ensured to express myself in new ways through art. And folk art is something that has stayed close to me over the years,” says the artist adding that any folk art inspired him and he still visits his hometown, Kutch in Gujarat to see those house paintings that he grew up admiring. “I always question myself about how I can reinvent myself. I take bold decisions when I create my artwork and never get stuck into one thing and that’s why I chose 3D elements in my art,” he adds.
Fusing art with technology is not something that Vyas has taken up recently. Ever since he graduated from the National Institute of Design in 1995 in Animation, Vyas has been creating artwork that promotes technology at the same time. “I always try to push my limits to do new things. I do the same with technology as well. I am always ready to learn something new and then try to use it in my art. I want to express my ideas and opinions through art and the medium can be anything,” he notes.
While his first love remains painting, Vyas is equally passionate about animation. Being among the first few animation artists in India, he has worked on famous films and advertisements as an animation artist including Aamir Khan’s Taare Zameen Par (2007). Vyas says, creating artwork for him is a personal and liberating process while animation is more about satisfying the client’s requirements.
“When I am painting, there’s no pressure and I can express myself freely. There is no timeline and pressure of selling my artwork. I have the liberty of having my freedom and I can create what I like at the same time I think about how I can communicate my thoughts to the audience through my art. I enjoy that process. Animation, on the other hand, is about the clients so it’s about you doing your best to produce that matches the client’s vision. I do that from the other person’s perspective. It’s different from what I do as a painter. It is more professional and painting is too personal for me,” says the 57-year-old artist, who hopes to see India developing its own animation style just like Japan’s Studio Ghibli.
“I feel India should have its own style of animation since it has a rich culture and history. We like the Japanese animation style, and I feel when India will have its animation identity it will be very popular. I think people need to take concrete steps in this direction,” concludes the artist.