• Snorts

Pandemic Art: Safe In My Ecosystem

Artist Interview: Nandini Chopra

Safe In My Ecosystem

We present to you our first featured artist on Aesthete, with an interview about her experience making art under lockdown, what her process is, and what she has in store for the future. Please enjoy the read!

The Interview

Samarth: When you make art, usually, when we aren’t in a lockdown, what would be your process? What’s the first thing you’d do, and how would it progress?

Nandini: If I am alone or with people who are used to me, I scribble out an outline of the idea in whichever notebook I have on hand. I use a black pen, blue pens and pencils don’t carry the right energy. The concept is the only thing I consistently think about until it is executed. It gets in my head. I try to start working on it as soon as possible and at every moment that I can. Some ideas are left to ferment and usually provide me with a better sense of closure once executed. I like to document and share my process with a few close friends, usually people who are artists too. I prefer for there not to be any criticism before I am finished, as it sometimes changes the course of what I’m working on.

I love making things. I usually have a very short attention span. When I am creating it feels like I’m meditating. I am completely focused on and immersed in the act. When I finish making a piece, that sense of completion is hard to describe but I will try. I have made something. I have thought of something and then translated it to the outside world and now it is real for other people too. I feel almost powerful. I am filled to the brim with satisfaction. This feeling only lasts until I take on the next project.

Samarth: Are you usually inspired by specific forms of art, and if so, do you do a lot of research before you implement? The Magritte reproduction on your feed is what prompted this question.

Nandini: I am inspired by a lot of artists with a wide variety of styles. Surrealist artists especially. Dali is a favourite, right alongside Magritte. Most of the things I make do not have much research behind them, because the path I have chosen involves a different kind of art form that is more catered towards the consumer than myself. So, for now, when I have a moment before I go down that path, I am using this time selfishly to make things on whims. I am creating impulsively, mostly just because I can.

Samarth: What’s it like making art under lockdown? You said earlier that ideas come to you mostly when you’re alone; so would it be right to assume the lockdown’s going real well for your creative pursuits?

Nandini: I work more efficiently when I’m alone but 90% of the things I make are about people. I love people, man. You get past that first barrier of expectation of social conduct and after that there’s just layers and layers and layers, never the same combination in two individuals.The art I’m making now is more focused on me, I don’t know if I like or dislike that. I used to disappear from time to time, go hikikomori. No contact with the outside world for extended periods. I guess this is something like that, halfway. So, just staying at home now doesn’t feel as monumental. Except I am in more of a productive state of mind than before.

Samarth: Wow, that’s super interesting; tell us a bit about the featured artwork.

Nandini: My dad is really into gardening and that interest has been imbued into me on a lesser scale. Terrariums fascinate me. Closed ecospheres of life that need no outside interference to thrive. This is what it was based on. Inside this bubble (my room) I have most of the things that I need to survive. This is probably the most detailed piece I’ve made as of now. The lack of need of social distancing, a wish, drawn on the little easel. The barely noticeable cactus or the clock with no hands on it because time feels irrelevant right now. Her hanging up her civil disobedience shirt because she’s playing nice and staying home. I spent a decent amount of sleepless nights working on it. I process most things happening to me or around me through my art. I romanticised this situation so that I could believe, halfway, that this wasn’t so bad. That I shouldn’t be afraid because if I can make it look pretty, maybe it can feel pretty.

Samarth: That’s really beautiful; I was going to ask you about the t-shirt and the canvas, but you’ve already detailed them pretty well; the last question is, what are you working on right now?

Nandini: I’ve just finished with a representation of Kaali’s origin with motif influence from mata ni pachedi. It’s the first time I’ve properly used flat colours, it was truly exciting. I am painting a self portrait. And I have a heavier project I’m working on that I don’t know exactly how to describe. It requires me to hand ink over 80 A5 sheets so I’m a little intimidated by it. There is a bigger project underway that will take around a year to develop but I’m not supposed to disclose any information about it. It will, hopefully, change certain aspects of brown life for the better.

Samarth: This was a brilliant interaction, thank you so much for allowing us to feature you on Snorts! We look forward to showcasing more of your art in the future!