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A composition from Kavita Sriram.
Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer
Kavita Sriram is an award-winning Contemporary artist. Born in Chennai, India, she spent the early part of her childhood in Africa and Dubai has been her home since 2000. Her art focuses on her perceptions, imagination and feelings; she likes working in different artistic disciplines, since, according to her, there is no one generic way to express art. Vibrant colours alongside contrasting mediums and techniques, is her creative trademark. “I am a visual storyteller,” she says, “My paintings are about self-connection and exude happiness and positivity through vibrant colours. I like telling stories through images and I conjure the images from many sources.”
She has participated in exhibitions across the UAE – in Dubai, Sharjah, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah – and also in India and Turkey. An art mentor educator, she conducts collaborative and private art workshops.
She feels blessed to have had the opportunity to mentor Children of Determination and work with women and children who have been victims of domestic violence and human trafficking. Commissioned to create artworks for many high-profile private clients in the UAE and abroad, she has been awarded the Golden/Cultural Visa.
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How did you turn to Art?
It was in Dubai in early 2000, that I started exploring glass painting. By 2005, I held a small exhibition of sorts at my home. The response greatly motivated me. I enrolled for art lessons with a home tutor, working in different mediums, in 2011. I really looked forward to these classes like an eager child, where a bunch of us women would get together for an hour or so once a week and try painting with different mediums! Each time I would paint something and share it on social media; I was highly motivated by family and friends to pursue it further. Thus, what started out as a hobby for me, turned into a passion, taking it to the next level.
Kavita Sriram with one of the awards she won.
This year, I had the privilege of illustrating the book cover of my father’s dream project “Nitrate Saga”, a book written by him which celebrates the rich history of Tamil cinema – its origins, the unforgettable moments and the visionaries who brought it to life. Recently, one of my paintings “Breathe – Finding Hope in Despair” was chosen by an international jury. It has made it to the Geoje Art festival, South Korea. It has also been selected to be exhibited in the The Haegeumgang Theme Museum and Yukyung Art Museum, in South Korea.
How do you find your subjects?
For an artist there should be no preconceived notion, generally, regarding subjects. In daily life, we come across several real-life subjects that could strike an artist to present in an arty form. This is the case with me. Of course, there were one-off subjects too which attracted me to work on, sometimes. Also, having travelled the world widely, I always had a keen interest in various art forms and cultures.
An artwork from the Serendipity series by Kavita Sriram.
According to you, how does Art connect the world?
Art connects us all, whether visual or performing art. Paintings connect the artist with co-artists and art lovers. A visitor to my studio or website, sees something which I have painted and responds with questions that lead us into conversation over shared experiences. Art connects us physically when we go to museums or studios and I have been introduced to a vast range of truly differing perceptions, providing fresh ideas, perspectives, and knowledge.
Why do you like colour? Is it because it represents positivity?
We see colours in everything around us, all the time. Whether it’s the calming effect of blue skies and green fields, or the reds and yellows of food — every colour has meaning and influences our emotions. I always say: “Life itself is a canvas. Let’s paint it colourful!”
This work in mixed media is titled Trance.
You work with Children of Determination, victims of trafficking and domestic violence. What makes you do so?
For me, helping others kindles happiness from within. Being among these children provides me with a natural sense of accomplishment, by helping develop a solid support system in the community.
Who/what are your art inspirations? Why?
As a creator, I know how satisfying it is to get a rush of unexpected inspiration, fuelling a productive streak. But unfortunately, this doesn’t happen every day. Many a day, I am waiting around for the right mood to strike me for the Voila! moment. I work on a minimum of 3 – 4 different canvases simultaneously, most often of different genres. Sometimes, talking during my creative block with a friend or fellow artist, helps me get inspired and motivates me. One fool proof way to keep myself motivated is to revisit pieces of work by my favourite artists. Revisiting some of my old paintings, past projects and successes, and seeing how far I have come — is the biggest motivation and inspiration for me.
As an educator and mentor, what is your message to aspiring artists?
Finding motivation or inspiration is something that is very personal to every creator. That said, a couple of things that I would like to say are to stay humble, keep creating, be open to learning and experimenting, build a strong portfolio by exhibiting and participating in good art fairs and exhibitions.
Identify your niche and create with your market in mind.
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