From limitations to liberation – how these MayinArt artists cope with the pandemic with a creative spirit
Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 525 posts, we featured an art festival, cartoon gallery. world music festival, telecom expo, millets fair, climate change expo, wildlife conference, startup festival, Diwali rangoli, and jazz festival.
Singapore-based MayinArt, founded by Krish Datta and Avik Bandyopadhyay, is an online platform to showcase Indian and Southeast Asian art. Images of some of these artworks are reprinted in this article with permission from MayinArt.
“Knowing the artist, the emotion behind the work, and the meaning of the expression often creates a far greater appreciation for their work,” Avik Bandyopadhyay explains, in a chat with YourStory.
MayinArt encourages art lovers to read the artist profiles on its website, and study their backgrounds. “We also do social media postings of their works and the inspiration behind it. We answer audience questions and conduct sessions where we invite artists to speak. All these help create a greater appreciation for art,” he adds.
Avik also urges audiences to focus on how art makes them feel, and visualise how it could transform their place – rather than just the name of the artist or the price of the painting. “Art creates positive energy, uplifts the space where it is displayed, and often becomes the highlight of your home,” he affirms.
Centering and radiating by Fery Eka Chandra
I Made Sutarjaya
“Art is power. An artwork is the power of the artist's imagination or idea – which is translated into 2D or 3D works or other forms – so that the audience can appreciate its beauty and its emotional power,” Indonesian expressionist artist I Made Sutarjaya explains.
Many of his creative ideas and storylines are drawn from his childhood memories and daily life in Bali, including temples and dance forms. In Balinese tradition, 'I' means man and 'Made' means the second child of the family.
Bidadariku My Angel by I Made Sutarjaya
“I feel successful when every work that I produce is able to make my soul happy, and the work is appreciated by the audience,” I Made adds.
“When I first started painting, I never thought about the style, I let it flow. I pour on to the canvas, and found myself in the process. In every piece of my work, I emphasise line motion as a strength,” he describes.
The pandemic has been a tough time for artists, but I Made says he continues to “pour new ideas” on to canvas. “To reduce burnout during the pandemic, I repeatedly painted on the spot, with watercolour on paper,” he says. Some of his works are themed on the pandemic as well.
“Keep your passion alive. Explore the best of your abilities and find yourself in your work,” he advises aspiring artists.
Megha Sharma Singh
“Art is a form of meditation. It is a very calming space for me where I can really explore my heart. It is how I express myself and focus my energy,” Singaporean artist Megha Sharma Singh explains.
Born in Kolkata, she had early exposure to the works of renowned artists and experimented with a wide range of styles. She now enjoys Zentangle patterns and the way they are seamlessly created in her mind.
Zentangles, by Megha Sharma Singh
“Art is personal, it’s magical, it’s how I can tune out the negativity and toxicity of everyday life. It lifts me. Every single day,” Megha enthuses. She also believes art has the potential to lift not just the artist, but those viewing it as well.
“The interpretation of any artform is an intrigue unto itself. True success for me would be to know how people interpret my art differently, and what their interpretation says about themselves and their perspectives,” she describes
“Appreciation is great, that’s why anyone draws, but a true measure of success for me is seeing how my art resonates with others,” Megha adds. The resonance can also lead to a sale, reward, or further commissioned work.
“Everyday life is complicated, and the thoughts that come to mind are equally complicated. So after some experimentation, I saw that I was falling back to Zentangle repeatedly,” she recalls.
“There’s chaos in this form, there’s madness in it, but there’s also a lot of method to it, I think,” Megha explains. Earlier, she used to work on doodles and florals, and has moved on from paper and marker pens to canvases and oil and acrylic paints.
The coronavirus pandemic has been a big influence on her art. “The uncertainty, the million worries, everything compounded to make me turn more and more inwards into my art. I was able to pour out all the anxiety, all the fears on to Zentangles,” Megha says.
Illumination by Megha Sharma Singh
She began to experiment with 3D art as well. “I began using colours to show my different moods – blacks for those black days and more vibrant colours for those days when I did not feel so indifferent,” she recalls.
“In terms of how it affected my art, not all of it was positive. There were times when I ran out of canvas, so I moved to paper. There were times when I ran out paint, so I moved to coloured pencils,” Megha describes.
“There were limitations, yes, but there was also an all-pervading sense of relief after I had finished a piece. Because I wouldn’t know how to deal with this new normal otherwise,” she adds.
Megha also offers tips to aspiring artists. “I think the biggest thing is to be true to yourself. If you really want to pursue art, give it time. It might take years to figure out your own style, or even your own medium. But give it time and give it your true focus,” she suggests.
“Don’t create because you must, create because you want to. Get inspired, learn from everyone – whether it is an established artist or even an amateur. Accept that everyone will teach you something new. Be humble, be original, and learn to take constructive criticism,” Megha advises.
“Art for me is an expression of feelings about everything that is transformed into something real. It could be in the form of visuals, audio or movement, using a sense of beauty,” explains Indonesian artist Januri.
Survey by Januri
His upbringing in a remote farming village has deeply influenced his themes and imagery. At times he has used transparent colours to reflect the political condition of his country. He has also explored sculpture and Cubism.
“Success for me is when I go through the artistic process with all my heart, and get good appreciation from society,” Januri adds. Academic references and artistic experiences have contributed to his visual vocabulary and range of styles. The pandemic has influenced some of his recent works as well.
“Keep working no matter what the condition or context. Be assured that one day you will definitely get the results you are waiting for,” Januri signs off.
Now, what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule and harness your creative core in these hard times?
Alone by Sabar Jambul
Tari Legong Legong Dance 2 by I Made Sutarjaya
Keep #3 by Januri
vision-1 by Shrea Ghosh
Amman by Sathya Gowthaman
Agrarian Irony by Harun
abstract 57 by Santhosh C H
Back To the Nature IV by Supriya Polley
A story of Rendezvouz by Diana Puspita Putri
Butterfly looking for the flowers by Husin
Crying little girl by Sriyadi Srinthil
COURTYARD OF MEMORIES’ 11th by Santhosh Deepak Andrade
Slow but Sure by Januri
Admiración by Megha Sharma Singh