Hi Aarohi, thanks for taking the time to chat with SIW. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your work.
Aarohi: My background added to my thought canvas- my entire art is me. I am the product of a mixed marriage. My father is a retired fighter pilot from the IAF and my mother, a doctor from Lady Harding who also did a brief stint in the IAF. My father is a Maharashtrian Brahmin and my mom a JAT Sikh. I have travelled the length and breadth of this great nation, studying its history at close quarters, learnt patriotism at my father and grandfathers knee. My daily commute to school with my kids in an auto has meant that I have subsumed the auto as a motif into my art. As a mother wanting to ward of the evil eye and to protect my children, I have been influenced by superstition. This in turn led to the birth of the nazar battoo and nimbu mirchi series. My own background as a ‘sikhni’ and being married to a sardar, meant that the Sardar as a motif would also be a part of my art. A trip to Rajasthan meant that colour would forever be my companion.
What does the art form represent to you?
Aarohi: The dictionary definition of Kitsch is very different to what it actually represents in mainstream art and fashion today. It is not bad quality or mass produced and certainly not inexpensive. To me ‘Kitsch’ in my work is nothing more than my love for bright colours and use of iconography as inspiration that is also popular in culture. That this iconography is integral to my life and has been at every stage is what differentiates my response to it from a passing fad to true inspiration and emotional catharsis.
Tell us about your collection of designs in this art form? When did you start designing with kitsch?
Aarohi: I have been painting for almost 20 years. Though the use of kettles and the like entered my repertoire in 2006-2007. I paint on many surfaces and supports now. Kettles and buckets to cars and walls. Furniture too allows me scope to expand my visual vocabulary over larger surfaces. Then of course there is also the traditional paper and canvas.
What are the key elements in this art, according to you and what differentiates kitsch from other art forms?
Aarohi: If I stay away from the dictionary definition, then Kitsch to me needs to be bold, combine elements of popular culture and imagery with an almost irreverent artistic flair that allows for discussion and debate on areas of society and culture. By its very nature it lends itself to many supports like furniture, clothing, utility items and even transport. And therein lies its appeal. Since it then instantly becomes available to the mass and is no longer confined to sitting in a drawing room alone.
What was the initial response that you got from your client? How has that changed over time?
Aarohi: My clients loved it and still do. It has been an active decision on my part to not go commercial or mass produced with it. At least the range of kettles and such. Since each is individually hand painted by me, there is more personal attachment to the end piece- both for me and the client/buyer.
Describe your typical day. How much time do you spend painting? How do you conceptualize your images? What’s your favourite time to paint?
– I start my day at 6am. Chai and then the next two three hours go in getting the kids ready, cooking, putting clothes in the machine, and general clearing up.
– Then the next cup of chai and I sit down to paint or doodle or generally work on some concept sketches.
– Then back to the drawing board, till about 4:00 pm. Then I go to pick up my son and daughter from their school pick up point. And then milk for the kids, a trip to the park till about 7:00 pm.
– Then its bath and dinner for the kids with homework thrown in.
– After the kids go to sleep, I get back to the drawing board for about 2-3 hours. If I am on a roll, then I might be awake for a few hours.
– For most of my work I am following my gut. I have been lucky to do what comes to me naturally. This in turn means that I spend less time laboring over details and reworking things.
– My favourite time would be in the evening and late at night.
How do you balance the work and family fronts?
Aarohi: With great difficulty J I am constantly torn between the two.
What are your plans for the future?
Aarohi: An ArtByaarohi line is next on the cards. Strategic tie-ups and an e-commerce site.
What do you think are the keys to professional and business success for women in India?
Aarohi: Supportive family and friends, confidence, self-worth, effective time management skills and strong work ethic
What advice would you give to young women readers of SIW who want to follow a similar career path as you?
Aarohi: Follow your heart. Don’t compromise on your vision and work hard.
All images are property of “Art by Aarohi” and required permissions have been taken to publish it on www.smartindianwomen.com website.
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