Cover story for the Women’s issue………..
More than a Hobby, featured in Masala Magazine in October 2012, Thailand
Careers, motherhood, rebellion, art – they do it all. Women who have made art their work.
An Artist Full-time, Karma Sirikogar
On the day of our interview, Karma Sirikogar was sitting in a temporary balcony studio strewn with paint tubes, brushes, and a blank canvas. Flighty in her purple tee and printed pants, she seemed both charismatic and enigmatic. She’s also very brave. Karma devotes most of her time to her creative work, flouting the cliché that artists pursue their art while juggling a nine-to-five job. Karma embraced painting from an early age. Eventually realising that her creativity wasn’t being channeled in the right direction, she quit her job as a graphic designer to pursue visual arts as a full-time career.
Since then, she has painted and performed at places like Rain Dogs art gallery and the Indian Cultural Centre in Bangkok, as well as in Goa and Kolkata. She was also the winner of the Bengal art talent hunt organised by the Bodhi Tree Monastery of Art in Kolkata earlier this year. Now dividing her time between the prestigious Kala Bhavan in Shantiniketan in east India and Bangkok, Karma feels she is on a “coming of age artistic journey” that helps her focus on work and spirituality. Here, she speaks about pursuing her passion against all odds. —REENA KARIM
How did you discover your creative talents?
I have been drawing ever since I could hold a pencil. I finished my first painting when I was 13, but prior to that I was drawing a lot. In school we had basic art lessons, but I never liked those, because I rather do my own [designs]. Every person has creative potential, and I feel too many classes might be conditioning. There is no standard in the painting world; you just go with who you are.
Tell us about your work.
Currently my process is very meditative. I don’t have a pre-conceived image of what I am going to start, and
I don’t have an end goal of what the image is going to be. I really just go with the moment. I take inspiration from perceiving the outer world with my inner imagination, and by reconstructing universal geometric shapes into new forms, as I feel they are the atoms of aesthetics. Each stroke happens moment to moment, consciously unplanned, unfolding until the image is complete. I work with intuition; sometimes I feel my instincts are a lot more intelligent than my intellect. Sometimes we don’t follow our gut feeling, because it is scary and unknown, but I like that.
What are you trying to communicate with your work?
If I can give someone a moment of being absorbed in that moment itself, and in the sense of sight, that’s enough for me. Art is in the viewers’ perception. I do not like to dictate how people interpret my art work.
Have you faced obstacles in being a woman artist?
It’s a double-edged sword. In one sense I meet and connect with people very easily, but do they take me seriously because of my work? Now that’s a different question. In my experience it has all gone well, and gallery owners and curators have treated me well.
Where do you want to go from here?
That’s a huge question. I want to be more involved with performance art. I enjoy dance, acting, theatre, and using my body as the medium of expression, as opposed to painting, which is external. I hope to find a way to pursue performance art or a way to fuse the two disciplines of painting and performance art. In the past I have done live painting at music festivals in Bangkok. I set up big canvases and painted continuously for 10 hours. And people around would see this painting grow. It was nice to create among people and have that direct interaction. I want to keep learning, creating, sharing, and also sustain myself. How it will happen, I don’t know, but I will figureit out. At the moment I am managing my creative self and my business self. It’s very important to take this seriously as a full time career. You have to understand the different roles you play as an artist. I don’t have a plan. I used to have a huge list of stuff to do. But in letting it go, I have done so many amazing things.
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