Welcome back to another episode of Artist Conversation! In celebration of Diwali, this week's episode is dedicated to an exploration of Indian art.
I speak to the experts in poetry (Shilpa DT), dance (Sreedevy) and painting (MG Kumar), who share insights into their craft, and exchange ideas about the role of art in Indian culture and tradition.
Shilpa Dikshit Thapliyal is a poet and author based in Singapore. She is a nominee of the Pushcart Prize 2021, and author of two poetry collections ‘Between Sips of Masala Chai’ and ‘Chimes of the Soul’. Her poems have been featured in anthologies, journals and online magazines in Singapore, India, USA.
Sreedevy is trained in Bharathanatyam and started the Omkar Arts in 1987, infusing contemporary movements into classical Indian dance styles. A choreographer at various schools, she has also produced works for many organisations such as Esplanade Theatres, National Heritage Board and MediaCorp.
Having spent three decades as painter, M. G. Kumar is resident artist at The Alora Art Gallery, which specialises in contemporary Indian and Indo-European art. This is also the parent-gallery whose artwork is transformed into fashion by Aestheletic. M. G. Kumar's forte is in palette knife painting; in their original style of realism, his paintings breathe new life into the ancient beauty of Indian landscapes.
In this interview, we chat about what defines Indian art, and why art is such an important part of our identity. One running theme that keeps emerging in our interview is the metaphor of masala chai, to borrow a reference from Shilpa's poem; like the delicate blending of the ingredients of chai, so much of our art is a fusion of our diverse cultural heritage, our life experiences and relationships.
"I have specialized in spatula painting for the past 25 years, and I don't have to look anywhere for inspiration [because] India is rich in culture, history and mythology -- wherever you look, you can get inspired to paint immediately." - M. G. Kumar
"Our dance is very much steeped in mythology and tradition, and many of the stories that we present are part of the festivals we celebrate... for us, dance is a reflection of our lifestyle" - Sreedevy
"Indian-ness is so intrinsic in us that it does come out in various ways without us even realising; when I'm writing, there are certain words that will just come into my poetry." - Shilpa DT
This interview is brought to you by Aestheletic: we believe in making art available for all -- we transform the paintings from our fine art gallery into fashion, creating wearable art for all.
Check out more interviews in our Artist Conversations series to learn about artists share about their journey and their craft.