June 12, 2012
Growing up, Anvita Jain had a fascination for Indian folk art and craft traditions. Her mother made jewelry, so a young Anvita developed an appreciation for painstakingly detailed craft pretty early on in her life. This interest later got extended to textiles, fashion and much later, further broadened to include the whole vocabulary of visual culture. She says, “I feel comfortable making images and creating meaning through illustration, drawing, printmaking, painting, typography, graphic design, installation, textiles and fashion. I am less interested in labeling my work and the limitations that brings and more interested in problematizing the boundaries.”
Anvita recently finished her Masters in Fine Arts in 2D Design from Cranbrook Academy of Art, Michigan, USA (2012). Her undergraduate degrees were in Visual Communication from Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, UK (2006) and in Fashion and Technology from NIFT, New Delhi (2003).
She says she finds it interesting to shift the starting point from time to time and the idea to come from unexpected places, and explains, “Sometimes a client brief provides the start. Otherwise, it could be as simple as an abstract shape I see in the floor or the sky. I also like to experiment with a lot of materials that catch my fancy and enjoy the process of constant surprise and discovery. I am interested in how much or how little you need sometimes in an image to convey meaning. I am also trying different starting points such as an existing image in a magazine asking to be re-appropriated or making caricatures (something I’ve never done before). During the process, risk and instinct are the most important for me. I try to spend time with my work to be able to see what it is asking for. Its also vital that I consciously stay away from the kind of mark making that has already been ritualized while paying attention to the unfamiliar and strange because that’s where the reward lies.”
She is inspired by the work of illustrator David Shrigley. Is there any particular motif or theme that she believes recurs in her work? She answers, “I enjoy the raw innocence of folk art, its depiction of the spirit world and our interior emotional realities. I am drawn to dark subject matter and stuff that’s considered conventionally off limits. My work attempts to evoke a sense of anxiety and congestion dealing with the contradictions and complexities of the everyday and our times leading to a state of war within. It draws from the conflicting nature of my own upbringing based on cultural issues of religion, gender, adolescence, sexuality and spirituality that led to a state of constant confusion and unrest. I try to achieve this quality by exploring a more visceral side of visual perception and developing an instinctive working pattern. Through an investigation of the dichotomies of familiar/ unfamiliar, pleasing/unsettling, violence/non-violence, physical/ abstract, I am attempting to create a cohesive graphic language that transports the viewer to the realm of the phenomenological and experiential.The goal is to explore visual uncertainty as an alternative to the traditional role of illustrators and graphic designers who act as a vehicle to clearly communicate a message from one end to the other.”
As for daily inspiration,Anvita says she looks at a lot of visual artists and designers, ‘primitive’ traditions of Asia, Africa and Latin America, Indian and international pop culture, and visionary art. She adds, “Mithila, Gond, Patua, Patachitra, Kalamkari, Thanjavur and Kalighat painting are my favorite Indian traditions. Some of the modern and contemporary artists that currently inspire my work are Keith Haring, Basquiat, Polish and Czech surreal posters, Chapman Brothers, Chris Ofili, Nick Cave, Philip Guston, Elliott Earls, David Altmejd, Matthew Ritchie, Fred Tomaselli and Tom Friedman and the list goes on.”anvitajain.com