Musings: Interview With Kehaan Saraiya

Kehaan Saraiya’s passion for art is distinctly decipherable in his artwork that evokes a pleasant sense of nostalgia. Immensely influenced by his experiences, Kehaan brings to us his wonderfully simple yet unforgettable snippets of life to help us cherish all that’s dear.

In a conversation with us, Kehaan shares his love for art, his perspective on the art scene in India and everything that makes him tick.


INTERVIEW

Hello Kehaan, it’s a pleasure to have this conversation with you, tell us more about yourself.

Pleasure talking to you too. Well I’m a full fledged Bangalore boy. Born and brought up here. I live in this place called Chamrajpet and I was born a couple of blocks away from home, infact my mother walked to the nursing home to deliver me. Well unfortunately Chamrajpet being one of the oldest colonies in Bangalore had very few kids while I was growing up. So that gave me a lot of time to my self. My childhood was more like a world filled with imaginary friends and real life props made out of cardboard. It’s my handmade cardboard toys and my dads empty bill books(worked as frugal drawing books ) that gave me company. Well I’m sorry if it sounds overtly dramatic, it’s not like I didn’t have any friends but I just enjoyed spending time by myself besides, I didn’t have any friends from school who lived close by.

I had this weird habit of coming back from school and drawing at least one drawing before I got lunch. If I found anything interesting. my first instinct would be to draw it! My mother had me put into this drawing class near our house called Nirmal when I was about 6 or something, I still have some of those drawings and some of them are up on my page. I really enjoyed those classes. I wish school was as fun!

We understand that you’ve studied engineering. What led you to pursue art?

Well from a very young age I liked making things and I loved watching things in motion and it was sometime in 9th standard when I stumbled upon the genius of Leonardo da Vinci. Two years later I decided I’d try and follow in his footsteps by getting into mechanical engineering. Unfortunately it was nothing like I expected it to be. It’s sad how this current system has tarnished the future of young innovative minds, narrowing down to what’s important to fetch them marks and not what makes the subject interesting. It’s always about how much needs to be covered and not about what can be uncovered, if you know what I mean. As someone being creative I felt the four years I spent on my engineering degree was suffocating. I probably wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. If someone is really interested to learn the core of mechanics I would suggest they skip the “education” and just join a factory floor or garage. You will learn 10 times more in 10 times less and of course read about the subject and if you can find a good mentor, nothing like it. So when you ask me what led me to pursue art, I would just say engineering was a means to pursue it. Art was always the core.

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Just A Boy by Kehaan Saraiya

Tshirts, posters, prints, coasters and more available here.

Do you have any particular theme in mind when approaching your artwork?

I always like to work around a theme, it just makes things a little easier. But there are times when I just go with the flow and just illustrate whatever I find interesting. Since I use a range of mediums there is a particular style I like to follow with a particular medium and this style is probably bounced off of some art that I find inspiring for example if I’m painting with oils it would be very expressive, impressionistic and an interplay with strokes because the medium allows it, in a way begging for it to be used in the way I use it. Ball point would be very edgy or tonal, so I use it like a pencil. I use acrylics like I use oils but I need to be quicker so it’s fun that way. I use water colours primarily as a study tool, if I’m sketching live. I like to keep it simple with watercolours. Broad strokes layered one over the other.

Talk us through your creative process. How long does it take you from the moment you form your idea to the moment you complete it?

Well there’s never a fixed duration for any of the work. Some could take a couple of minutes if they are quick brush pen work and some might take days or even months (layered oil paintings). The general process would be to make a couple quick thumbnails and get used to the composition and form and then jump into the actual work. But quite often I just jump into from the very beginning never sure of what the outcome might be. I try to work from life as much as possible but there are times when I shoot photographs and work out of those as well.

Familiarize us with the tools you use to get the desired output; we would also love to have a glimpse at your work station.

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Kehaan’s Workstation
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Kehaan’s Workstation
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Kehaan’s Workstation

Are there any artists whose work has influenced you significantly?

There are loads of artists that inspire me on a regular basis. But then again I have different artists for different mediums. and most of the time I don’t remember their names. Vincent van gogh, Picasso, Egon Schile, Turner, Cezzane to name a few. The old masters Leonardo and Michelangelo were my very first inspirations. Andrew Loomis, Andrew Salgado, Pat Perry are some of the newer guys. The list is endless. Unfortunately there are not many Indian names on that list. I’ve been slightly ignorant about the local art scene need to explore more but we’ll get to that in a bit. (for some reason they are influenced by the west but aren’t we all !)

Are you working on any projects currently? We’d love to know more about your work.

I am going to be doing an artist in residency thing at this creative space called KENA on Church Street. I will be working on a body of work which would end with a show in the same location. So let’s see how that goes.

What does success mean to you?

Success used to mean owning Ferraris and Aston martins and having a string of beautiful women by your side. But obviously when you open your eyes to the beauty around you, you tend to realise there’s more to life than just fast cars and hot women ( the bloody media is to blame for this immature idiocy). If I have been able to inspire other people with my work and I can continue to do so for the rest of my life, there’s nothing more fulfilling. All the other good things in life are just bound to follow, you just need to try and be true to yourself. and all of us know that, that’s the hardest part. So if I am able make that for myself I thing that’s success for me.

How important is music in recreating visions off your mind?

Oh music and art go hand in hand. I always listen to music when I’m working on something intense. It just helps you get into the zone. and if you can learn to play an instrument nothing like it. I always like to take a break with my guitar every now and then. But then again I also like the silence.

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Chet Baker by Kehaan Saraiya

Tshirts, posters, prints, coasters and more available here.

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Eric Clapton by Kehaan Saraiya

Tshirts, posters, prints, coasters and more available here.

According to you, what is your greatest work so far? 

My greatest work is yet to come. But I like the cubist painting of the guitarist I painted when I was sixteen, which was quite a leap from what I used to do. But as I said my greatest work is yet to come. ( i like all my work, I don’t have favourites).

What do think about the art scene in India? Do you think art is gaining ground as a profession?

The art scene is definitely improving with bienalle and the lovely modern art galleries and the various art communities popping up. I just wish there were more people ready to invest in art. I feel there still is a lack of knowledge as far as people are concerned and they find a little hard to truly appreciate a piece of art. I think once that knowledge is attained, more and more people would like to be a part of the scene, artists and the consumers alike. That being said, it’s still a very expensive route. Many people still have the misconception that an artist can live a very simple and easy life but obviously that’s not true. Half of the battle is to be able to sustain your craft. Everything is expensive from materials to space to wasting time trying to explain to a society that doesn’t really care. Things are picking up, I just hope it picks up faster.

Procrastination, what is your relationship with it? How do you deal with it?

Oh I tend to do one too many things at a given time and procrastination has been the only way most of the times. Though I hate to admit it, there are times when you tend to work harder only when you realize that time is running out. I prefer to get on with it and get done with it as soon as possible but there are times when there’s a lack of motivation to complete your work and that’s when you tend to procrastinate.  And if you’re a person with multiple interests you tend to procrastinate a lot easier than the others. It’s a battle all creatives will have to face until their unsettling life has finally settled.

If you could wish for one, and only one superpower, what superpower would you chose?

I really like the ideas of my drawings coming to life.

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The Old Monk by Kehaan Saraiya

Tshirts, posters, prints, coasters and more available here.

If you weren’t an artist, what do think you would be doing?

I would like to be a carpenter or an architect. or both. actually I don’t know what I would be doing. Sometimes when I look at corporate workers, I feel they have lost their purpose of existence or maybe their idea of existence is to earn money and go back to their routine life. Sometimes I wonder if I am the abnormal one or them. I just don’t understand the idea of waking up everyday for a job you hate doing, It’s for the money they say. I guess it’s not their fault. But when I look at them, it just gives me more reason to work harder and push myself. Sometimes I feel art in it’s purest form of expression is the most beautiful thing a human can do, be it building buildings, making a wrist watch, clean a toilet it’s all an art form. It’s just your perspective that counts and it’s this what makes us different from them, them who have lost purpose or have forgotten that there is more to life than few bunch of papers with some numbers printed on them. Go learn to play a new instrument, pick up a camera, attend a pencil jam session. Who knows you can probably reclaim you’re lives when you still can. Them poor souls.

Being an artist is not just being able to pick up a brush and paint. I can coach a football team and still be an artist, the only difference is that the canvas is the field and the medium are my players. Everyone is born an artist. Everything you do with your heart, mind and soul is an art form.

If you could give one piece of advice to budding artists, what would that be?

Just find something from the above.

Actually wait here’s one you can add. “ Just remember its never about being the best, it’s about how you can express your self the best way possible.” It’s obviously not easy and nature has it’s way of filtering out the pretenders from the one’s who make an effort, so never stop working. The media very rarely shows you the downside of the so called rich and successful. Apart from the few unfortunate souls who had a generation worth of inheritance on their platter before they were born, most of the successful people have worked really hard to get there. Just remember one thing, if you find someone who is better than you, don’t let it de-moralize you. Let it make you realize that, the only reason why he/she is better than you is because they have worked on it a little harder a little longer than you have so if you want to be as good, you need to churn in as much. No short cuts there.

Lastly, how has the journey been with Cupick thus far?

I really appreciate what you’ll have been doing for the art scene in Bangalore and I hope you continue to do so.

 

Visit Kehaan on Cupick to check out more of his work.

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One thought on “Musings: Interview With Kehaan Saraiya

  1. An insightful interview… very insightful.
    Well articulated by Kehaan to all the very apt questions asked.
    He has a fresh mind with unlimited possibilities.
    I wish him the best of the best.

    Liked by 1 person

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