Though co-founder and creative director of an advertising and design agency in Mumbai, it is his parallel roles as digital visionary artist and landscape photographer that allow Aashit Singh to get in touch with his true nature
Why do you call yourself ‘digital visionary artist’?
Visionary Art, irrespective of the mediums of exploration like traditional/analog art, digital art or motion graphics, depicts the inner realm of altered or elevated states of consciousness. Endless journeys into the crevices of possibilities and faithful acceptance of the minimal truth about the material, the metaphysical and the enigmatic often lead to artworks that reflect such abstract intent and imagination.
Art according to me is truly the essence of our life. Exploring various realms of the inner world leads to the subtle manifestation of visionary art, as it embodies the vision of the prime initiator/creator.
The humble cycle of inner introspection and ethereal execution has always been a part of me that perhaps evolves and expresses itself as Digital Visionary Art. Although I create traditional/analog art and motion graphics, most times the artworks are digitally worked upon. Creating such art forms that have been aided by the inner vision and the dreamlike/hallucinatory visual representation of visionary art makes me a ‘digital visionary artist.’
What led to your choice of illustration as a professional pursuit?
Being born in the third generation of a family of fine artists, the choice was integrated within me a long time ago. I was exposed to various genres of art at a very early age, which of course was entirely beyond my reckoning then. But as I passed out of school the natural inclination towards art became more intense and I was internally convinced about art – in terms of pursuing illustration as the profession of my liking.
True understanding of art was greatly enforced by formal education at the Sir J.J. School of Applied Arts in Mumbai, where I pursued a Bachelor’s and then Master’s in Fine Arts. Early years in the art institute exposed me to a number ideologies, techniques, talent and skill that I am humbly and deeply grateful for. In the six years at the institute, the learning was supremely influential – deep diving into abstract art and vivid ethereal visions. The encouragement to decipher experimentation, intent, skill and view the vision itself from multiple viewpoints were some of the turning points of assimilating art and the expression of intent buried within. Perhaps my time there has been most pivotal in terms of simply appreciating details in deeper meaning and their significance in time.
When did you decide to establish your own advertising and design agency?
After working as the co-founder of a design cell for eight years, I decided to take some time out and focus on art and travel. Once I was back to objective reality, a divine partnership appeared with a close former colleague of mine. It did not take much convincing or time for us to take it forward – it was the most natural and progressive way ahead.
We set up S O W in Mumbai five years ago, and I serve as Creative Director. S O W came about solely with the intention of pushing greatly the assumptions of design and advertising. Keeping ourselves involved in projects of our interest brought out the most unique perspectives on multiple levels.
S O W gave us the opportunity to work with multiple clients in various genres from jewelry to aerated drinks, such as Kirtilals, Rio, Blaupunkt, Raymonds, certain real estate clients, Taj Group of Hotels, and Colgate. It also gave us the platform to explore brand creation and brand building and sustenance. We have also been consistently working with the Jaipur Literature Festival – the world’s largest free literature festival.
Describe your style. What inspires your artworks?
Essentially all artworks are alchemically toned and coded with subtle hallucinatory vibrations visually.
The style of work is a congregation of symmetry, imagery and geometry, largely inspired by nature and hallucinatory experiences. For me, nothing is more insightful than nature itself. Inspiration is closely related to absolute presence of mind – it gives direction to the entirety of the thought and the impact that led to it. Nature in all its various forms and functions is the catalyst that brings the balance between the creator and the created.
What inspired ‘the ARE?
As a digital visionary artist, I create artworks for multiple genres, especially in the psychedelic music environment, under the name ‘the ARE’. While reading Kundalini Yoga by Sri Swami Sivananda, and his Mind: Its Mysteries and Control, I was absolutely awestruck by how simplicity ascends and enhances understanding. Layer upon layer in my artworks had almost rendered all simplicity into a void. Further understanding gave me deeper insight about the inner self (instrument) through which the now could be easily comprehended and envisioned. I realized that it was the vision of the inner self alone that finally emerged as the ultimate truth. ARE comes from a shloka (Om AntahkaramRtambaramEkamSvaha) created to represent the divine inner self that guides us towards our truth. It is the inner instrument (self) that alone and by itself holds the ultimate truth.
What drew you to the psychedelic music environment?
Art has always had a very deep impression on my being; it represents the most accurate exhibit of the detail and emotion in the moment. I have been influenced by the environments of the psychedelic sounds produced by the many visionaries of sound for almost two decades now. To me the ever-enchanting and eternal psychedelic sounds have always presented visions far beyond reason and the intellect, which as an extension have amplified the manifestations in terms of meaning, detail, vividness and understanding the various facets of our own being.
Which have been your most memorable projects?
Over the years I have collaborated with multiple artists of various genres of psychedelic sounds from across the globe. It would be really unfair to call only a few projects memorable. But a few projects have shifted the focus from the eternal divide of duality, vividness in colors and experimentation with even more hypothetical elements and environments. One was an artwork called ‘Consciousness’, done for Nano Records, UK. With an absolutely free hand at expression and execution, this particular artwork had me thinking and reading about the details of our consciousness, very closely understanding human psychology and occasionally relating to the effects of the elements in our now and our reactions to the same. Three different artists had produced and collaborated to work on this track. The artwork took over a month and an intense amount of hours were spent on the machine as well. Eventually it turned out to be an even match in terms of the sounds and the visual interpretation and it went on to be the #01 album on the Beatport charts for almost two weeks.
In more recent times, there was a compilation release called Solid Gold from Vacuum Music, Mexico.It was the first time I was working with such colors, representing an array of truly legendary artists from across the globe, whose work I have appreciated and complimented for a really long time.
There was another very detailed artwork for a personal project called ‘Kali’. A lot of elemental research went into this one – over a month of simply reading and visually narrating the whole introspection of how the elements and the two sides of Destruction and Creation are closely dominated by the energies they represent. It was real journey working on this one. With no timelines to adhere to, it was an absolutely fulfilling feeling to view a print of this.
Others would include a cover for a forthcoming release from Alice D Records for an artist called Sepehraka, Iran; and 5 – a forthcoming release from Deviant Force Records, Munich for Rawar, Portugal. This one is a true gem; from the name to the interpretation of the sounds, it has been a closely woven connectedness.
Tell us about your recent collaboration with Antariksha Sanchar.
Antariksha Sanchar is India’s first fantasy Bharat Natyam opera, presented by Red Bull Music. A classic and yet futuristic amalgamation of stunning visuals and absorbing sounds, it featured visual elements from a video game based on the same concept. The whole theme was centered within the fabulously detailed mythological environments originally created as a part of the video game and further enhanced to create this experience. The storytelling and the expression of the characters through Bharat Natyam made it an intrinsically vivid experience.
We collaborated and created a couple of environments at different consequential phases in the story telling. The execution for this was slightly more focused on the main character on the screen and that gave a lot of room for details in the environment. The music enhanced the overall experience and the visuals blended with the storytelling. An impeccable performance by Ms. Jayalakshmi Eshwar definitely set this whole performance apart from the rest.
When did you discover a passion for photography?
Years of traveling influenced and developed a passion for landscape photography, though time lapse photography took a while to be well understood and executed. The finer details and learnings of shooting landscapes and time lapses came in gradually as I began shooting professionally. It’s such a delight to time travel when you compress hours of shooting and render it to view the whole duration of the shoot play in a minute.
Both types of photography were initially personal pursuits that over time converted into commercial ones. But, to be honest, more work has been done on a personal front than the commercial front. Among the clients we’ve done such work for are Gemfields, Kirtilals and Citrus Holidays. All these projects required us to explore and execute the best ways to connect nature and seamlessly blend and enhance the esthetics of the product/service.
How have you tackled the challenges on your journey so far?
Prioritizing time – organizing and derailing from one state of mind to another to another to get to that convenient equilibrium has surely been the greatest challenges of them all. The only way to tackle this is by adding true meaning to what I do, assimilating acceptance, and developing an endless amount of willingness/devotion to further explore the boundaries of time.
What does the future hold?
For now, a trip to the ultimate gathering – the Kumbh Mela! Among the countless desires, mellow though serious focus is on showcasing my artworks along with legendary visionary artists at Visionarium – Art Evolution Festival in Spain a couple of months from now. At the moment the future seems to be gliding towards further exploring meaning, understanding ideologies and creating works in the realm of holistic transcendental art and motion graphics.
This article was originally published in POOL 104.
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