By Bharati K.
In this week's Artist Spotlight, we speak to Somya Bisht, who calls her art "aesthetics of excess". With an eclectic mix of colours, styles and genres, Somya unabashedly draws her dreams to reality.
Tell us a bit about you, the person behind the work we see.
I'm a 30-year-old human with 10 years of experience in the field. I'm still figuring out what I want to become when I grow up. It's a very funny quote that I read somewhere and I feel it completely defines my life and my state of mind right now. I'm a design graduate from NIFT currently working as an art director for an Indian premium menswear brand, and of course, a struggling artist who is struggling to find her identity and to find time for my passion.
Where are you based?
I have no base because I move a lot. I was based out of Delhi, but recently got married and moved. My job is in Bangalore so there's no standard base. I'm a global citizen, like Priyanka Chopra haha.
Describe your artistic process.
There is no process, it's just a mood. It's more or less my way of putting down my emotions in the most exhilarating manners with a lot of details through my art. But usually, most of my artworks are inspired by whatever I'm going through on that specific date or that specific time. I feel really inspired and look for some references and try to have a first-round rough sketch of what is the best way of putting that emotion out. For example, I watched this documentary on Nirmal Puja and I felt this very strong emotion of how you can break your typical patterns and the standards that you have set for yourself. I thought I should definitely capture his journey. I studied and researched a lot about him through his Instagram channel and his website, multiple articles, collected that information, and then in a step by step phase, I sketched it. The very strong emotion that he was going through at the moment I tried to capture that.
Your art is an eclectic mix of colours, styles and genres. How did you develop this unique signature?
I don't know if I have a unique signature. I guess I give my upbringing a lot of credit for having this style or way of sketching things out. I was born and brought up in a very humble family with a military background, my dad is in the paramilitary so we have been brought up in multiple states, different cities, I have seen multiple cultures around me, languages, people, kids, food. It's just me being raised by absorbing so many different things, that kind of brings this whole sense of adapting and absorbing and mixing multiple things on a creative canvas. If you go through my Instagram account I don't think you will find a signature or a pattern, there is just stuff. Very different things on very different days.
Your series, "real people, real art", the lockdown series captures the pandemic experience for many of us. How did you go about conceptualising this?
It started with very strong emotions, it was something very new that everyone and myself was going through. There are two very big emotions which I was going through at that time: one was the anxiousness, the anxiety of coping with this whole new setup of working from home and handling your everyday life with so many dynamic things happening around you at the same time. Groceries are getting out of stock, suddenly you hear a rumour that tomorrow you will not get milk or something like that. It was also a very exciting time, it was funny and sad at the same time. I asked my friend to take a picture of me posed in different angles where I'll pretend I'm riding the scooter, and then to take my picture doing yoga as well. I got some references of myself doing different activities that I've clubbed together and then translated it into this one whole composition where I've showcased my real-life struggle to be healthy during COVID, working from home and then just figuring out this whole crazy time of the pandemic.
South Asian female representation is a vital and recurring theme in your art. Why is representation and diversity in art important to you?
I've been surrounded by some very strong women like my mother. She raised me all alone when my father was serving this country. I've seen multiple women around me who are real-time examples and I always fantasise about these strong women. I like fierce things and things that are bold and I feel women, and specifically South Asian women, it's hard to believe these ladies have handled everything and are still managing so much in their life and it is quite inspiring for me. In terms of why representation and this diversity is important, it is definitely important because I feel that we have a tendency to not glorify our own culture and not talk about it. I just want to let people know more about Asian women and how strong we are and how multi-talented and multitasking we are. I find Asian women very beautiful, very strong and very inspiring. If I really want to keep a muse, I will definitely look for an Indian woman or Asian woman.
I noticed how you mix music with art to create really exciting pieces, especially centred around women. What inspired this trend?
As I said, the very first step of my design process is actually just getting hit by something really hard, an emotional kick, and with that strong emotion comes a visual. Whenever I listen to very quirky music or a beat that clicks with me differently, I usually get visual references in my mind. I see certain things, I visualise certain things, I usually get these references of these faces, very cool edgy women grooving on that music. I feel that there is so much you can do around women. We are very intense deep creatures, there are a lot of layers which we can explore.
What does art mean to you?
It's my sweet escape, frankly speaking. The things which I can't do at my work I do it on my page. The things which I probably can't do in real life, I do it on my page, or through my art. The cities or the places which I have never seen before, I'll try to visit those places through my art. It's just a medium of converting my crazy dreams into reality.
What’s next for you?
I am a person who lives in the present. If you will talk about what I'm going to do tomorrow, I literally have no idea. I don't plan ahead. The most important thing for me or part of my everyday life struggle is to just get some time for my art, that's next. I guess you’ll have to stay tuned for that. Follow my Instagram channel (so_much_oh) to see.
All artwork featured in the piece belongs to the artist.
Artist Spotlight is a series where we highlight upcoming South- Asian artists in the creative space.