Hunder Wasser’s art had a great influence in my life – Vinita’s Karim

by Team ACF
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Dhaka based artist Vinita Karim’s solo exhibition ‘The Woven Image’ is an amalgamation of different mediums, techniques and inspirations fused seamlessly in her art works.

Vinita Karim shares with Ekatmata Sharma about her experiments with different art forms in her latest exhibition ‘The Woven Image’ curated by Gallerie Nvya at Shridharani Art Gallery, Triveni Kala Sangam from Oct 12  to 19th, 2022.

How satisfying was it to work with different mediums on the canvas for ‘The Woven Image’ exhibition?

I have been painting for this exhibition for the last four years. These are the works that were created during the global pandemic. During the pandemic, I could not travel much so had a lot of time in hand and I could concentrate and experiment a lot. Most of the works were done in my studio in Dhaka, Bangladesh. For the first time I am showing two kinds of mediums in an exhibition.  In this one you can see the new element of mineral pigments. I love using different materials. I use gold, silver, copper leaves, all kinds of oils, different linen canvases.  In my earlier works it was more of acrylic, oil, strips of embroidery. There are 20 paintings and 3 objects – 2 sarangi and 1 vase exhibited in ‘The Woven Image’

What made you interested in mineral pigments?

 I got very interested in them, because they are the real earth pigments which have been used for hundreds of years. Legendary artists like Van Gogh and others have all used these pigments and created their own oils with them. I discovered pigments in a wonderful shop in New York.  These are extremely fine and some of them are from France, Germany and different parts of the world. I really enjoy using these pigments.

The way of working with them is completely different from my earlier mediums. I have to put the canvas on the floor and pour the pigments on the canvas. The pigments have a life of their own. They go their own way.  They form a little puddle when poured at night on the canvas and when I see them the next morning, there is a new language that has been formed with rivers beds, soil and interesting elements. So much magic happens overnight. The whole thing becomes very exciting.

Please share the unique element of bringing embroidery onto the canvas?

 I had started to include embroidery in my works from 2012 during the Dhaka art summit. The curator told me to bring in something intrinsically Bengali in my work.  I looked around and I saw Dhaka muslin, which is a beautiful fabric with such a long history. Dhaka muslin was exported all over Europe. I started using Dhaka Muslin and getting small houses embroidered on it and then these embroidered strips were sewn onto the canvas.

I did collaborative works with local Dhaka artisans. I think this whole collaboration has created a lot of synergy.  It has added another element to my work. For me it’s very important that everything should be cohesive and seamless.  It usually takes one and half months for the Karigars to do embroidery for one painting.  Unless you don’t go very close to the canvas, you don’t even notice that it is embroidery.

How did you explore painting found objects?

I look around for found objects that talk to me. I appropriate it and transform it and make it into my own. I may be making more of these in future. I love the 3D element in them.

I like to do unexpected surprising things, to keep me surprised. It’s easy to follow rules but it’s harder to break the rules.  

How do you seamlessly fuse different elements in one painting?

I have been bombarded with so many influences and inspirations in my life. I have been born and brought up all over the world. My father was an Indian diplomat. I did my schooling in Kuwait, Sudan, then I went to University in Stockholm, I did my masters in fine arts in the Philippines. I have an international background. Currently I have studios in Dhaka and Delhi.  I have been living in Dhaka for 10 years.

All these experiences have created a mosaic in my mind. Slowly those come out into my art. I also love the richness of materials. I like the layers. First I will put the coloured layers, then I will add textures, after that I will add the leaves then again the textures. It’s a sort of process. And at the same time, I try to combine all these together so that they all blend harmoniously with each other.

What makes your art multi-dimensional?

I have been living all over the world, making homes in different countries. So, every time I had to reinvent myself. I think that is part of my DNA to reinvent myself. That’s why art also keeps on getting reinvented that way. I keep on trying out new techniques, new mediums, that’s what keeps me more excited.

As an artist, I am very much interested in exploring. I don’t want to keep on repeating and doing the same thing again and again. I want to create new works of art.

Who has been the biggest influence in your life?

Thirty years ago, I came across the works of an Austrian artist Hundert Wasser at a gallery in Munich, Germany. I loved his work. I was inspired by the layering on his art works. He had a great influence in my life. I love Ram Kumar and Raza’s landscapes. These have all been inspirations for me.

What are the different mediums you would like to explore in future?

In the future, I don’t know if I may consider doing a lot of minerals because those are very exciting. I am exploring and trying to find different materials to use. Recently, I did a course in New York, where I learnt to cast sculptures, so I might create some ceramic or metal sculptures. Being an artist is a very lonely profession. The moment you come out of the studio and exhibit it’s a very positive experience when you interact with people, get to know their feedback. Most of them tell me that they have never seen anything like this, it is very gratifying.

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