When I sketch and paint, I attempt to create my thoughts which are beyond the words. I cannot explain my paintings in words, that’s why I create them. I use different media to evoke my thoughts, as an experiment to blend the modern techniques of abstract expressionism with the traditional, tribal and tantric figures.
What initially drew you towards becoming an artist?
I was born into a family of artists. My grandfather O.V. Achari was an eminent artist cum sculptor from Kerala. My father V.M. Raghupathy, who was my first Guru, was also an artist. So naturally, my passion for art began at a very young age.
How would you describe your own personal style?
I have tried many styles from classical realism to abstract, I have tried most of the styles when I was experimenting to find my own style. Then I have realized that, I cannot create anything without human figures. Other styles never made me satisfied. So I can describe my style as modern figurative style.
What pushed you in that direction and how can you see your work evolving in the future?
I am an ambitious person who is constantly striving towards developing my artistic skills and improving my creative abilities. It is a journey where I see my work being popular all over the World.
What inspires you in your work, is there a driving factor that draws you to the easel?
I pursue the theme of 'life' in general. From history to the present day, the lives of humans have always created curiosity in me. How he survives, how he dreams, how he interacts with others...all his acts create enthusiasm in me.
Are there particular individuals who have encouraged / inspired you along the way, friends, family, teachers, maybe even other artists?
Egone Schiele and Ganesh Pyne are my favourite artists. Their style always inspired me. As I told you there were many artists in my family. Some of them definitely encouraged and inspired me.
When it comes to creating your work, do you have a preferred medium, certain types of brushes or tools you love to use?
I try all the mediums. But overall my preferred medium is acrylics.
When it comes to the subject matter of your work, what draws you to those themes?
I observe life through art. When I look at my surroundings, I feel that they have been created for me to draw. When I interact with others, I feel that the incident has been created for me to think and find a theme for my next canvas. So I believe everything around me has been created for me to redefine.
Could you describe the process behind your art? How do you get from concept to execution?
A difficult question, but I will give you an example. Once, I was traveling on a train. There were two people in my opposite seat. A man and a woman. They were sleeping. The man was sitting and the woman was lying on his lap. I sketched this scene and later it became a painting.
Could you describe your normal day as an artist? Have you set routines and rituals or is a more a case of when the moment is right you work?
No, my routine is not set in stone. It varies but usually I work from 5-7 each day. Then some days I won't even touch the brush.
When you work, do you focus on one piece at a time until completion or are you working on multiple pieces at the same time?
I focus on only one canvas at a time.
How has your art evolved to be where it is today?
Through a long process...through many life struggles... and through experimentation with different styles.
Which of your artworks are you most proud?
Difficult to say. I like most of my works. Recently I have done a series "TIME TRAVEL". It is a set of ten paintings narrating 'man and his surroundings'. That series of artworks do make me proud.
Is there a fellow artist alive today that you admire? If so, why?
I mentioned Egone Schiele and Ganesh Pyne earlier, but from living artists none spring to mind immediately.
If you could travel back in time, is there a particular artistic period / era that you would like to have been involved in?
I don't want to travel back in time. Understanding the here and now presents enough motivation and subject matter.
What challenges do you feel the 21st century artist has to overcome?
Many challenges exist, like the current pandemic situation. In my country, it is very difficult for you to survive as an artist. There are no public or private organisations like in other countries who help artists. There are less buyers. Galleries charge a lot of rent. It is very difficult to have a studio. Many artists like me work in their small three room flats.
What advice would you give to a young aspiring artist currently studying art?
The current situation is entirely different from my younger days. Now being an artist can mean someone who creates some computer drawings or graphics or something like that. If you want to become a canvas artist, then try to find your own style, your own path. Try to get inspirations from your own life.
Despite having developed your own distinctive style, is there another style of art that you are immediately drawn towards and admire? Why?
I like abstracts. I don't know why but I like them.
We have all heard of the unfinished masterpiece, even Da Vinci laboured away at the Mona Lisa for years and years, have you works that are in a continual process of evolution? When working on an artwork do you find it hard to let go? Knowing when enough is enough?
No. I have clear ideas of about what I am trying to achieve and stay focused on that canvas as mentioned earlier.
Many people see artists as storytellers or advocates for a cause, do you believe that it is an artist’s responsibility to shine a light on a particular subject / theme, or do you create purely for the sake of expression your creative nature?
I believe, an artist should be a real human being. He should be compassionate and secular. He always should stand with the weak and the poor. His art should "comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable".
What are you working on at the moment?
Now I am working with some of my childhood memories. I am trying to recreate some glimpses of games which I used to play with my friends when I was a child.
Have you ever been part of an artistic group / movement? How did your work benefit from that experience?
Once I was a part of a group which sadly does not exists today. It was a great experience getting to know different artists and interacting with them.
When is your next exhibition? Is it a solo or group exhibition? Could you tell us a little about the exhibition, when and where it is?
I am planning an exhibition with an artist friend at the end of this year. It will be in my hometown, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.