Aashna explores young artist Pallav Chander’s Journey through diagnosed ADHD and dyslexia
Art above all!
Aashna in a heart-to-heart conversation with Pallav Chander decoding and deeply comprehending his artistic journey and practice.
Born in 1990, Pallav Chander completed his Bachelors in Fine Arts from Birmingham City University, UK.
Focusing on showcasing autobiographical experiences and occurrences, Pallav’s work forms a visual connect/link between himself and the audience. His works exhibit therapeutic chaos that identify with his artistic journey and practice. As Pallav has a background in theatre, one cannot miss but notice the theatricality in his works.
Diagnosed with dyslexia at 11, Pallav and his work were tremendously impacted by this finding. Many of his artworks are tantamount to his personal exploration of his memory and feelings he deeply faced. His works are an unusual observation of society rather than an outright judgment or statement.
Pallav's work is an emotional odyssey that consists of theatrical passion. One notices the use of diverse colour palettes, patterns, geometric patterns, recurring motifs, and alphabets. In an interview for a solo show, Pallav spoke about the titles that he gives to each artwork stating, "Whenever I title my work, I have a theatrical approach to it. It’s either a statement or just one or two words defining my work and mainly manipulating the viewer to not get a straight answer regarding the definition of the painting. It is left for the viewer to extract his/her own interpretation."
Pallav’s art is apt in a constantly changing, evolving world. It is devoid of academic tradition and any ambiguous, fashionable or subjective properties. Textures, a variety of them, fill up his canvas. He states that the textures in his works are a major part of his art process as most of the time, he paints more than three things on the very same canvas. This act seems like all the scenes of a theatrical play culminate into its finality, into a work of art.
His works question with a child-like curiosity, engaged in self-communication and self-analysis.
In 2014, Pallav exhibited his works in his first solo show titled, 'Decoding A Dyslexic Mind' at Visual Art Gallery in New Delhi followed by 'Life Must Have Its Mysteries' at Art4All Gallery, New Delhi in 2017. Pallav has been a part of several group shows across India. His works feature in the collection of Kiran Nadar Museum, New Delhi; Alkazi Foundation, New Delhi, and numerous other prestigious private collections, locally and globally. Through an in-depth conversation with Aashna, Pallav reiterates what art means to him. Take a tour through Pallav's artistic journey.
AA: Would it be right to say that you took refuge in art?
PC: I can never take refuge in art. Being from an artist's family, I always knew I would be compared to my mother. I have lived in this field from day one of my life. I know how difficult this field can be for a person. It's unpredictable and lonely to be an artist. Only those who are too strong-headed can survive this field. My mother always wanted me to have a safe career. But I always believe I never chose art, it chose me. By the age of 18, I knew my purpose was simply to be a creator, be it art or theatre.
AA: Did it help you navigate through dyslexia and ADHD?
PC: This question has come in front of me many times, and I have a very simple answer to this one, Dyslexia and ADHD is a part of me; I don’t feel it is a disorder, it’s like breathing, you don’t notice that you are breathing all the time, it’s a natural reaction in itself. Just like that, I have writing disorder and hyperactive symptoms but they are naturally present in me, I have turned these traits around and utilised them to the fullest in my art practice.
AA: The role of society in your artworks is pivotal; would you consider so? Should institutions like schools and colleges introduce art therapy in their curriculum?
PC: My works mainly represent my subjective view of the contemporary society; be it a personal loss or the social world we are living in, or any other topic, which I experience in my daily life and is worth capturing, eventually turns up on my canvas. Talking about the second part of the question, I totally agree that art therapy should be introduced in the curriculum of school and college institutes as it may open up a growing mind and use the source of imagination to unravel things, which our strict curriculum can’t explore.
I would like to quote Einstein in this context, "Imagination is more important than knowledge."
In the quest to understand Pallav's works better, he was asked about the process that he generally adheres to. He shared several insights that were simple and effective yet one needed an artistic discipline to execute the process.
He explained, "The trick in my art process is that I never know how to start the work, but I always know when I can’t work more on the artwork. So in that way, few works take me months and there are 4-5 layers involved. Many times, I have made a final work, which I then destroy completely; the beauty of all this chaos is that the layers leave a history of the previous image and gets incorporated in the new imagery. Majority of the time, patterns start to form within the process itself. I never create patterns with a deliberate agenda."
Speaking about the elements or motifs in his work, one notices the occasional appearances of the eyes, mouth (with teeth), face in his artworks. Pallav, wholeheartedly, embraces these motifs within his artworks and expressed, "I have always been intrigued by facial expressions. I have a background in theatre, which made me a keen observer of human reactions. Whenever in my artworks, I get an opportunity to capture facial expressions, I incorporate it in my compositions."
Understanding dyslexia, we asked Pallav's about the use of inverted letters in his paintings and if they signify something. Pallav's explained further saying - "The inverted alphabets defines me, as it comes naturally to me. During school, I was trained to correct this by my school consular so I could write normally. But once I started my art journey, I unlearned what I
was trained to do, so that I could freely and naturally express myself."
Continuing questions on the motifs and elements, Pallav spoke about the handprints in his artwork.
AA: There are handprints also in your artworks, do they indicate the society?
PC: The handprints in my work are about self-identity, and yes, to some extent it’s about the imprint of human identity also. But the texture of handprints leaves an imprint of my personality carved into the composition, which I feel is a very pure form of bond in making the creator and creation one.
When questioned about the medium of colour that he uses and prefers; he said -
"I simply need to create art, medium at one point becomes irrelevant."
Further explaining what he thinks about the medium, he said, "When I have an idea, I use it to the fullest potential within the work that I'm working on. But mainly, I use acrylic paint as it dries faster and I can create layer-on-layer to execute the composition with much precision."
He continues, "In terms of my colour palette, I choose more vibrant colours to depict sorrow and dark subjects. When depicting joy and celebratory subjects, I mainly use a darker palette of black & white shades to show the intensity in my compositions."
Thereafter, trying to understand his approach, Pallav was asked about his approach to the canvas and what did he want to communicate through the projections of his visual language.
AA: The scribbles in your work have a child-like impetus. Is there something that you want to bring to the viewers notice through that?
PC: To answer this question, one needs to understand my process. When I start working on a painting, some experience needs to trigger me emotionally. Through the years, I have adapted myself to take in all the energy given to me by the universe, on a daily basis, and utilise it creatively.
Majority of times, I don’t plan my work, I mainly work on what triggers me as a person. It can be a person, a situation, or just a random click of an emotion. That’s why there are lots of different topics I deal with, rather than sticking to one series and exploring the same subject over and over again.
Also, I never know where my art will end up while I begin an artwork. The painting starts revealing itself to me as the process continues, and I am the first viewer to my own works and at the same time, just a tool who's taking dictation from the universe.
AA: How has theatre shaped or directed or affected your artworks?
PC: Art and theatre go hand in hand, in my case. I never make an effort in combining both the fields, it comes naturally to me.
“I have always composed my theatre scenes as a director, and as a painter, I have always directed scene in my paintings.”
Pallav's message to all those aspiring artists out there is - "The only message I have for an aspiring artist is that no one can teach you to be an artist. If you have the determination and self-will to create, no obstacle can stop you from creating art. But, to take this up as a profession, you have to be ready to embrace isolation, because it may look like a very glam field from outside, but once you get in it, you will realise it’s a very lonely journey for an artist to survive and make ends meet. Every artist is running to become immortal with their works in this field. But the secret is very simple, you have to become one with your art, and for that, one just needs practice, practice, and more practice to perfect his or her own style. It maytake years or even decades, but if you are honest with your art, Hard Work eventually, always pays back."
Pallav's journey is a humbling one, yet he hasn't lost touch with the child within himself. The journey of unlearning and unleashing brings about so many insightful expressions; Pallav has learnt to amicably capture them into his paintings.
Pallav's journey is an inspirational one, isn't it?
Tell us what you think about it!