Kanchan Chander is a well known artist based in Delhi. A Recipient of Lalit Kala Academy and Ministry of Human Resource Development fellowships in India, a French Government scholarship for study at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, Kanchan has taught for two decades at College of Art, Delhi before turning to freelance. Shifting her focus from tribal imagery of the Shakti cult, she has worked in collage and brightly painted female torsos. More recently, her work has featured female legends, mainly Frida Kahlo and the stars of Hollywood and Bollywood, while continuing to portray aspects of fertility, the erotic and the sensuousness of female form, bedecked with sequins, silver leaf and beads etc.
In a free wheeling conversation with ACF, she reveals more on her wearable art collection
You have a very exquisite set of collection of wearable art. What motivated you to turn art pieces into jewellery?
Well actually I have always loved jewelry, I have been working on these Hollywood Bollywood series from quite some time. About three years back I just thought to try one piece of it. It was just accidentally by chance in the summer I was sitting in the studio and I did it and to my surprise it turned out to be really well in fact lot of people started saying can you make for us, it somehow turned out to become bigger and bigger and now I have been working on it for two years . I painted bollywood – Hollywood series and I started reproducing my own paintings in a smaller format and embellishing it. I embellish it after I take out a printout.
What are the themes have you chosen to portray on your neck pieces?
As I said first Hollywood bollywood icons, the old veteran heroines and legends like Madhubala , Audrey Hepburn
“One should either be a work of art, Or wear a work of art”
Is there any specific thing you keep in mind while you are working on these neck pieces?
I do everything myself. I sit with the jeweler, I do the matching, I make sure when he stringing I am around. So basically I give a lot of personal touch because that’s what I believe in; I don’t believe in leaving my work to any third party.
The color scheme should be nice. Mostly I use black and white so there shoul be back and silver beads. Also I don’t want to go beyond certain budget, I want to be more affordable to people of all classes. Its all semi precious, even the frame is of brass its not even silver because the moment you use these materials the price of product is bound to rise and then it cannot be afforded by everyone. I always tell them when you are tired of wearing it, just remove the beads and use it as a work of art so you can use it for both purposes.
You said that you mostly use black and white, any specific reason ?
I don’t know, I just like it. Though there are colours, some of them are really florescent neon bright orange , like Audrey was made using bright colours . it’s very difficult to get the right bead ;I wanted to get neon beads but they were not available that’s why I chose bright colours so either they are bright or black and white , no middle path.
I observed that your art work is highly dominated with feminism and feminine beauties. Is it just coincidence or a conscious decision?
I am not particular about gender issue but yes I have got a soft corner for it because I am quite concerned with women sensitization.
Another reason is I add swarovski on face like I have a painting of Michel Jackson but what happens with male portraits is that swarovski don’t look nice on their face and nor do people like it unless they are gay. I generally have to ask the person that if it’s a male portrait so would they like swarovski on their face and some say yes it’s okay but many don’t like. Then it becomes very difficult for me because then it’s like I am not touching the main part of the painting , I am leaving it blank which somehow doesn’t give me so much pleasure that’s why you tend to find more females specially in Hollywood Bollywood series.
There are many admirers of your art form, so what is that one thing they might not be knowing about you ?
I think there are lot of things they don’t know about me. If someone does not know me personally so if someone only sees my paintings they find it funky one usually feels that artist is young and chirpy but when they see me with silver hair I don’t know either they are surprised or shocked . its something very difficult to answer. I don’t even feel my age like my kids at times remind me that mom your growing old and I always say “ohh thanks for reminding me “.