Sebastian Varghese [sebastianv]
What do you do? How do you define yourself as an artist?
I am a visual artist.
The visuals I have assimilated transform me and become the repository of content from which my images emerge. I am intrigued by the interplay of contrasts and harmony.
What is your message?
The purpose of art making is going beyond the propagation of a message to arrive at the subtle essence of it. Art touches people in unpredictable ways. An artist can not plan how the work is going to impact the viewer. Its mere presence matters. The work of art and the mind dynamically interact with each other. This organic ability makes art an ever evolving entity.
Your biography in four lines.
I was born in Kerala, India, graduated from Fine Arts College Trivandrum, India. I work in Dallas, USA and in Kochi, India. I show in both the countries.
Do you upload your work to the web? If so, where could we see it?
Try the following links of the galleries I showed recently;
How is an idea born? For you, what is inspiration?
Art practice is an ongoing process. The ideas and images emerge from my visual assimilation of the world around and their subsequent internalization. How I choose one idea over the other is hard to describe and analyze as there are no fixed rules. If certain possibility of paintable series play out in my mind, that thread is followed 'in spirit'. I believe that the unknown would be favorable to me if I am open to all the possibilities.
What role does technology play in your creative process?
If Leonardo Davinci is alive now, I am sure that he would be an expert in Adobe Photoshop! Of course he will have millions of 'friends' on Facebook too!
Technology is a great tool and any tool has it's placement in a working space. But a tool is only as good as the user.
The presence of an internet art community was beyond our imagination fifteen years ago. It is an utopia came alive in front of our eyes. Online galleries revolutionized the world of art the same way the new media changed the print world. Yet the net took the "brick and mortar" galleries a step ahead in the game. Unless you are an adept in discriminating the substantial from the shallow, the internet can be a source for distraction and disillusionment.
What is art?
This question is not to be answered in words. But let me have a crack at it anyway...
Take the question 'what is music?'. There are all kinds of sounds and noises around us. When a musician arranges an ensemble, harmony of sounds happens, a piece of music is born out of the random. Of course there is a cultural history for each musical tradition.
The appreciation of a specific art form depends on each person's art experience. The relevance of art varies from person to person. Some don't have art in their daily horizon, or they don't feel it at all. Others are born artists. For them, everything is art or somehow related to it. Many think there is no function or relevance to art without a socio-political objective or message. But knowingly or not, everyone experiences art. Nobody can escape it. There is art in our everyday life whether we see it or not. There is art even in 'anti-art'.
Art as a process exists in the collective memory of humanity. History of art tells us this very truth. Creating an art form is a personal choice. Some just enjoy the process and go. There can be a by product, a tactile art form or just the remaining memory of it. The quality one adds to an activity is interpreted as 'creativity'.
A water-strider does not leave 'drawings' on the surface. It just uses the surface tension of water and enjoys the ride!
When do you get your best ideas?
Ideas are like cats with a will of their own. They will not come to you when you call for them. One can only stay open by being sensitive to the evolving possibilities.
There may be a quantum field of probabilities exists in a parallel universe simultaneously, which one may be tapping into -who knows? Probable becomes possible which leads to actuality as soon as one makes a choice. Our memories play an important part in this process. Constant working helps to be there than analyzing it.
How do you evaluate whether an idea is good or not?
Rather than good or bad, to me it is more important whether an idea and the medium I choose complement each other. Out of all possibilities, I arrive at the content according to the workability and relevance. I do not analyze the process too much when I work. The disease called 'analysis-paralysis' is the deadliest one among artists.
Three creative ideas that you would have liked to have created?
All the new ideas are exciting.
I don't always feel that 'I' had to create them.
I am a happy camper with all kindred spirits. Its inspiring, always.
When and how did you begin to see yourself as an artist?
Just like all children I too did drawings before learning language. But I noticed that there was something distinctive about my obsession with drawing. In retrospect, that was when I realized that I am an artist. I remember creating comic books to impress my friends at school. During middle school days onwards I was fascinated by the painting process and found myself doing watercolour landscapes all day long.
Why do so many artists and creators have such volatile personalities?
The question comes from the premise of a stereotype created throughout history. Aren't there volatile personalities in all professions? It may look like an art maker behaves bit edgier than others at times. The uncertainties of the process itself are enough to make one cranky. It is frustrating some times as the rules of the game changes on the go which leaves one in unknown territories. Its easier that if one can maintain the so called 'beginners mind'. But it is not easy for some. If one is mature enough to channelize this pressure into the power and the restlessness into the energy behind the work, then there is no reason to spin out. But it is easier said than done. Some artists are more patient with the frustrations along the way than others.
Do you consider yourself postmodern?
I am fascinated by postmodern thoughts of Joseph Beuys and works of artists like Marcel Duchamp, and other contemporaries. As I live now and here, historically everything of the present is applicable to me also. Ultimately these kinds of frames of references based on linear history and formal categorizations are limited and very relative.
The 'experience' of art is the key thing. If one does not connect, it's irrelevant whether it is ancient, modern, primitive or postmodern. The reality is that everyone is like an artist when one feels life with all its intensity, here and now.
How should a work of art be evaluated?
Evaluation is nothing but a point of view at the best.
I shall introduce some typical perspectives.
To a new viewer it may open up a totally different world.
A curator evaluates according to the relevance of the content and overall suitability of the work to the particular concept of a show.
A critic will be interested in its aesthetic value and historic placement.
A collector looks at it based on his or her acquired taste and interests.
A casual walk-in person may be just curious to see.
A dealer looks at it as an economic investment.
An art student sees it as something to study about.
Artist's friends who grew up together and hung out for some period who have seen his process all along, usually get it in some depth.
One can add more view points like these.
But an art maker knows which of his works has hit the high note, by working experience.
Must an artist reinvent him/herself everyday?
The process of art making itself is that of reinventing oneself. There is a phase of internalization and experimentation. It needs some time and a path to follow for a body of work to emerge to convince oneself before anyone else. A planet needs a stable orbit before the evolution starts to occur.
Which artists do you admire and how do they influence your work?
I will have to come up with an endless list! Each master is a mystery to be explored over and over. Humanism, intellectual honesty and the trust in what one is doing, even when there are no support system in place, are some of the influential aspects I admire.
What do you think about public funding for the arts?
Not enough at all. Look at the funding for sports, technology or military, to compare a few.
Is art necessary?
If art was not needed, it would not have survived this long. Art is not just paint on canvas or sculpture in stone. It is there as an aesthetic value embedded in our fabric of life which may not be visible for many. Anything in life gets relevance when we assign certain value and quality to it. As the phenomena is always evolving into something else, humans have this urge to create something greater than our mundane existence.
If life is all about survival, then it will be run primarily by fear of extinction and eventually will be reduced into a bare minimum. That will be a world run by dry conformists doing pragmatic transactions without giving any space for imagination or any value for human freedom. We have numerous examples of such periods in history.
Does it pain you to let go of a piece you have sold?
It is not that difficult to part with them as I am always looking forward to new works. When someone likes my work, I am grateful when they collect them as I can be sure that the work will be cared and respected. But I have to admit that I do have attachment to some of my works in rare occasions.
How do you feel about the fact that the pieces exhibited in contemporary art museums are often of artists already deceased?
It usually takes some time for an artist to be widely recognized, if at all that happens during his lifetime. Artists, writers, musicians and other kindred spirits live through their works and memories for centuries whether they are in a museum or somewhere else. They conjure their presence back to us, through their published works. We still feel they are alive even when they're physically gone.
Do you personally collect any items?
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