What medium do you use for your projects?
My art practice is a fusion of different techniques and disciplines that I’ve been exposed to throughout my life – painting, photography, video and digital art. I have worked with various media for my art development for example oils, acrylics, mixed-media and photographs. I’d say I have a special connection with photography considering my background in documentary film making and my research interest which focussed on how digital technology is changing the way we view, store, recollect our memories through photography.
I like to think that bright and warm colours really bring the subject that I’m working with (whether photographs, images or other material) to life in a way that I cannot do with the more dull colours. Perhaps it also has to do with the fact that I was brought up in India – where bright colours are everywhere! It’s also an interesting question in another way though. I’ve found myself using more bright and warm colours after my children were born. Before the kids, I used all colours, even very subsided ones. After kids, somehow, all my artwork is very bright and warm. Perhaps there is something there too!
What is your creative process like?
Inspiration can strike from anywhere and anyone. I’ve realised that it’s usually things that I notice or experience as I travel around the world that gives me inspiration. For example, the inspiration for my last series ‘Mutation’ came from something really mundane – I was sorting through my pre-digital photographs and getting them digitised and it struck me that generations of the future will never experience photography and the iconisism of photographs the way I had done before social media and digital photography. Transforming that into works is a process of research, getting more of an insight into the topic and many many failed experiments on the representation of the idea before I know when they’re ready.
Tell us about your art journey.
I was born in a family of many artists. My dad was a practicing artist then and a professional photographer for the past 40 years. I literally grew up in the darkroom. After my graduation I studied Commercial Art in India majoring in photography and worked in an advertising agency before moving to Hong Kong in 2001. In Hong Kong I earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in documentary film making at the City University of Hong Kong. I went on to make a couple of independent documentaries after that and editing documentaries before getting a scholarship for pursuing a PhD at the Lingnan University in Hong Kong and when we moved to Singapore, at Nanyang Technological Institute. I practiced painting and photography throughout this period. I have participated in many group shows and had my first solo show in HK Visual Arts Centre some time ago.
How does art affect you?
I’m not quite sure if art affects my life or is it the way around. I think I will have a clearer perspective in about 25 years. I think its an exchange and my art is an extension of me and my life experiences. Art helps me connect to myself and to connect to the outside world. Besides, it is the only field that I think I can fully express myself and there is no judgement on right or wrong. I enjoy the way that I can use my true personality to communicate with people. An artist must surrender to inspiration in order to transform and evolve.
“I’ve realised that it’s usually things that I notice or experience as I travel around the world that gives me inspiration.”
About Sheetal S Agarwal