He would wear different colored socks… He loved wearing costumes and acting parts of characters he found on the street. His favourite was to act like the gubarwalas (balloon-sellers) of Simla…
Colour, paper and brush were always found in our brown-carpeted room of Simla. Why art? I would pester, as younger siblings are wont to do. Why not? Came the reply. There were little doodles in everything, most vividly, the perfect copies of Mickey mouse and Donald Duck in sketchbooks. It is strange how one’s present takes merely a fraction to become one’s past, and that past just a few more moments to become an unreal dream. The constant in which we grew up and are still growing with was, is, art.
As Vincent Van Gogh said, “I dream my painting and I paint my dream.” This is a little story of growing up with a little dreamy boy, an artist, my brother.
‘What is it like to grow up with an artist?’ is something I have been asked many a times. Most of the time, our world is complete nonsense. Nonsense that makes complete sense to us. Our reality doesn’t seem real to others. We like to be lost and don’t enjoy the bit where we are found. Laughing at life’s rough edges makes up dinner table entertainment. We realized early in life that this world is a funny place full of books, drawings and curiosity. We questioned everything and anything. But we didn’t really ever grow up, nor do I see it happening soon…
‘Quite a smile- My sister’, was the first portrait that my brother made of me. The year was 1994, I was 6 and he was 8. I could not help thinking that the girl looked better than I did. I would gloss over it for hours: it just seemed better than anything I had seen before. That was my first memory of Kartik’s world of Art.
Now when I ask him, ‘what is your first memory of your own art that you still cherish?’
‘In different sections of my fragmented mind, they all are special.’
He likes to twist his words, spin yarns, and adopt a stoic manner.
My next question would be as a matter of fact, ‘What is your favorite?’
The dreamer replies, ‘there was this performance, based on miracles, which no one ever saw and nothing was documented. It’s just there in my head…that’s my favourite.’
When I look back, he has always displayed these instances of his life seen, unseen, dream or reality. Truth is such a transient thing, but at that given time, he manifested his own truths—real or unreal.
One of the distinct phases that I can clearly remember is what I like to call the ‘Butterfly Phase’. Beauty was being incorporated in every art piece. They seemed like flowers with wings. His wooden room was full of these flying beauties. There were books on butterflies everywhere, and he was painting them on our walls. All our conversations were about butterflies. The child was lost, fluttering, and beautiful.
His works have sought different mediums and invisible stories, pondering over such things as ‘The life of a breath or Moist fear’. But as Kartik himself explains, he is continually in thought, almost obsessive. He examines the same situation over and over again and every time it appears different and yet retains something that is the same.
One of his art works displayed for his earlier exhibition, ‘Plucking at the heart string’ is a collection of photographs taken and connected together in the form of a heartbeat. The story behind it was how old photographs he had taken and earlier art influences began penetrating his dreams, and he began working with the past, moulding it into a present—or a future. He began working with the fluctuation of memories within his dreams.
With time, these young ideas took flight. But his innocence, stubbornness and his thirst to know more and more have not been quenched. Nothing has changed, from the boy that he was... we fly kites made by him, and he sends home letters that consist more of drawings than words. It’s like cheese and wine: amid all the changes we encounter, there is something that remains. Something essential.
I should have known the answer; never the less I asked him, ‘In your work, what is your wine and cheese?’
“I think in my work I am the cheese and the wine, it’s the constant in me which holds the art together despite all the changes.” That’s how I like to see his art, not from an outsider’s point of view, not as a critic, just as something I have grown up seeing, and have been a part of here and there. I acted in a young, innocent piece of his titled ‘Flower’. Since then, his works, to me, bear a hint of unfamiliarity too. I sense that the older works emanated from what his eyes have seen from the outside and the recent ones are more personal, something from within him.
He agrees: ‘yes, it does hold a lot of truth. As we grow up we see too much, unshadowed by our childhood imagination. But what we don’t realise is the reality that we actually see is just a construct of our own imaginations. Our world is too concrete to the eyes but reality is fluid like a dream…”
As for me, personally Art grows from within our soul, which connects to the outer world through its material and medium. It is the idea, the dream and the concept that constitutes the heart of it. The outer layer gives it form to be seen, shape. Like the moments you are already living in and photographs been taken to assure these moments existed not just in our dream but in reality as well. So art is a dreamer’s eternal dream. This world seems more like a combination of imagination and fiction...to be mixed together in perfect proportion and the result of which would lead anyone to be---as Dr.Seuss, a large part of our childhood, says, “Truer than true, and there is no one alive who is youer than you”.
And so these Lost children continue to dream, knowing that the only truth he might grasp is in the way of making art.
Kartik Sood. Born July 10 1986 in Simla. Lives and works as an artist in Baroda/Delhi.
Kriti Sood. Born February 19 1988 in Chandigarh. Lives and works as a writer and curator for an Auction house in Delhi.
This issue may not be true, but its definitely real. These existential questions of truth and reality are ones that trouble us most in our late teens, when we are being transformed most rapidly, both physiologically as well as psychologically. Truth was always deduced by a process of logic: If a is more than b and b is more c, then a is more than c. That is true, and therefore a kind of axiom. Then, as we grew older, we learnt about the 'paradoxes'. If a is a liar and claims that this sentence is false, is it true?Read More
By Kriti Sood, Issue 13, The Fiction Issue, October 2012