Nijesh Mohan was five, when he started painting. “My father drew an elephant for me, which I erased and redrew. Seeing that, my parents bought me crayons and colour chalks”, he recalls. From Thrissur in Kerala, the artist is now based in Bengaluru. He does photo-realistic paintings with abstract backgrounds. “I concentrate on textures, colours and layers.” He works mostly with mixed mediums, acrylic and oil on canvas. “I do the base layer in acrylic colour and the detailing in oil paint. Acrylic brings out textures and patterns very well. It is easy to work with and dries fast. Oil paintings on the other hand, give you a smooth finish and are great for blending,” Mohan explains.
“I use a lot of blue in the background because it creates a cooling effect. I choose colours based on the mood and feel I want to convey through my paintings.” Mohan’s recent paintings talk about human emotions, and feelings. The artist is inspired by Gerhard Richer, Robert Standish, Gottfried Helnwein, Bose Krishnamachari, P.V Santhosh and Murali Cheeroth.
The 36- year- old says that he couldn’t join the fine arts college in his city because of frequent strikes, and instead joined an ad-agency after school where he worked for two years. “My passion was always painting. I painted for hours every day and later became a full time artist”. He referred to art books with step by step instructions on painting to fine-tune his skills. Initially he reproduced works by artists like Michelangelo and Pablo Picasso. “I also visit a lot of art galleries to observe and learn the art of others. It took me a lot of time to master things,” he says.
Initially, it was difficult to survive as an independent artist, admits Mohan. To get by he did portraits of people and other commissioned works. With time, his work was acknowledged and he says he has good sales now. He started exhibiting his pictures in 2010 and has exhibited in Coimbatore, Bengaluru, Chennai, Mumbai and Bhopal.
Like Mohan, Pradeep Unni from Palakkad, also found his passion at a very young age. “I think I was born with this talent and started painting from third standard. During my school days, I learnt the basics of painting from a neighbour of mine. Later, I took a diploma in a fine-arts college.” Unni takes inspiration for his art from Nature and often from the selfishness of mankind. “We exploit Nature and kill animals for our pleasure. We are blind to the struggles of others.”
Unni uses acrylic in canvas and his colours are intense. “I use deep and bold colours to represent the gravity of the situation. My paintings will speak a lot about going back to Nature”. His semi-realistic paintings have smooth finishes “I don’t use brush strokes because, smooth finishes brings in the elements of realism best.”
He is inspired by Rameshwar Broota and Bose Krishnamachari. “I think their paintings are very deep with meanings.” This full time artist has done exhibitions in Mumbai, Bengaluru and Coimbatore.
Mohan and Unni’s paintings will be on display at a show called For Space, at Art Houz. From October 26-November 6, 11.00 AM to 7.00 PM