7 February 2019
Inspired by nature and Vedic scriptures, Bombay artist, Psycollagist, transforms vintage photography into psychedelic collages. His work points to a hidden world within each of us that manifests itself through the process of collage.
Where did you grow up?
I am a Bombay boy. A major part of my childhood was spent in a small locality right in the heart of the city. I grew up around a mesmerising beach, which was my playground, vibrant colours of Bombay culture, and some amazing street food! For anyone who grows up in a colourful city like Bombay, there will always be a sense of appreciation for all its radiant and beautiful colours.
How did you get into art?
After finishing prolonged school and college days, in my early twenties I moved to a small town named Sawantwadi, near Goa, for a brief period. Sawantwadi is in Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra, which has a history of nearly 400 years of making Ganjifa cards that are traditionally hand-painted by artists. This was the place where I was really introduced to fine art. Spending some of the most important years of my life around this culture played a huge role in shaping my view towards everything. For a city boy who grew up around an extensively urban, Bollywood-consuming culture, this was a paradigm shift. It is the simple things in life that make you appreciate it. Living in a small village in beautiful nature, there’s something that happens that makes you more receptive towards everything. Some say it’s nature revealing its beauty to you, just to make you realise how beautiful you are within. This is where I grasped a little sense of who I am and what am I doing here. It took me another couple of years, after coming back to Bombay, to completely wrap my head around these questions. I had always been tearing things apart right from my school days and making collages; I absolutely loved this medium for its sheer joy and being limitless. These questions and visuals that I had been contemplating ever since had begun clouding my subconscious, and collage was the tool through which I chose to channel this.
Where does your creative inspiration come from?
My inspiration comes from everything around me. Nature is one of my biggest teachers and inspirations. If you look closely at even the smallest thing out here, you will understand the level of detail to the functionality. My mind is shaped by places and experiences. Being born and brought up in a city like Bombay and then spending a lot of time out in nature is the main reason why I speak so highly of nature – it has taught me a lot of things.
How would you describe the subject matter of your work?
The collages I make are actually making themselves. These are thoughts and visuals that almost find an appropriate face in the physical by themselves. The process of a collage is quite mysterious as it comes extremely close to mimicking the primary patterns of the human subconscious. I have always been a seeker of experiences, and, over the years, I have come to a realisation that the process of collage is one of the realest experiences! Putting unexpected pieces together suggests something that my mind couldn’t have even possibly thought of. This was the biggest revelation. For me, the ‘art’ is in the process of a collage. Being lost in the collage world is as therapeutic as meditation; I can be there for days!
Your art often has a psychedelic quality. Can you tell me more about this idea in your work?
The word ‘psychedelic’ is derived from the ancient Greek words ‘psyche’, which means soul or mind, and ‘deloun’, which means to reveal or manifest. It translates simply to a ‘manifesting mind’ or ‘soul revealing’. When I am making a collage and putting pieces together, my own subconscious is the first witness to the surprises that are revealed during the process. I always feel that there is a manifesting mind behind all this which creates these surprises that even I cannot predict. This is a little background to the name ‘Psycollagist’ and also the reason why I call them ‘psychedelic collages’.
Is there a message that you want to communicate or an emotional response you want to evoke from your audience?
I just feel that we are a little too tied up with our everyday rut and missing out a lot when it comes to experiencing life in general. My work revolves entirely around the fact that there is a hidden world within each and every one of us, and it is just a matter of getting in touch with it to realise how beautiful it is to be alive out here, right now! So, I think that would be one simple message I wish to share through my work.
Your work features vintage Indian photography and captions that make reference to Hindu scripture. With that in mind, can you tell me about the theme of national identity in your work?
Those who have lived in India will certainly realise how culturally rich and diverse this place really is. As you move from one region to another you realise how different each subculture is from the other. I was born in a city which was heavily influenced by Bollywood. Later in the villages, I experienced how much life and culture is influenced by nature. Through my work I come across appropriate faces, visuals, or imagery for these cultures that celebrate the technologies to transform one’s life. I am not a very religious person but certain scriptures or Vedas that you come across in India summarise one simple teaching: ‘You are the creator of this whole universe.’ So, I think the nationality of my work mainly depends on where I am currently geographically. I humbly believe that I was born here with a birth right to travel across the seven continents to explore and experience in full spectrum. I am hoping that the work I am creating today will enable me to do the same in the most loving way. Currently I don’t have that kind of a funding, but until then I am exploring and experiencing all the beautiful things around me here in India.
What mediums, tools, and methods do you work with?
My work is mostly a mix of digital and analogue. Some of the imagery I use is scanned from magazines, old photos, newspapers and then worked on digitally. Some of the pieces are also completely digital. I use photo editing software like Photoshop to cut and compose. Some of the pieces are completely handmade.
Can you tell me about the creative process?
The process of making a collage is very hard to explain: it has a mind of its own, it does not like being controlled, it just happens. Throughout this process you cannot be very conscious of it, otherwise you end up making something very loose. The trick is that the pieces will literally guide you through it – the two pieces that come together suggest the next one and so on. It takes you to a place where the collage will tell you to back off. That’s where I stop and go off to sleep…
This series celebrates the blooming within every life form having an experience out here. We all have the chance to bloom spiritually by raising our self to the highest level of consciousness. Our Vedic scriptures divide consciousness into five categories: covered, shrunken, budding, blooming, and fully bloomed. Trees and plants fall into the ‘covered’ consciousness category. They seem to show no sign of consciousness, but when we observe them carefully, we see they have a limited consciousness. Other living entities like worms, insects, and other animals are in ‘shrunken’ consciousness. They are not as covered as the plants, but their consciousness is not fully developed either. Human beings have ‘budding’ consciousness. A bud appears shrunken, but it has the potential to bloom into a flower. Human consciousness has similar potential; it appears shrunken like the animals’, but we humans have the innate ability to expand our consciousness to an almost unlimited extent – up to the point of knowing the Absolute. When we begin to inquire sincerely about the Absolute, our bud-like spiritual consciousness begins to expand. This is the top most state of consciousness: consciousness in full bloom.
What new projects are you working on?
These are some of the latest pieces I’ve been working. This series revolves around the little happenings inside the mind.