Everyone has their own journey and there is no definitive path to success or wisdom. Kolkata based artist Swati Pasari rose to fame because of her signature vibrant sculptures. We stood in trance as she worked in peace at her in-built studio at her residence and we waited to hear her story.
Swati retreats into this stillness every day to work. This often means cocooning herself away to sketch, read, or simply think, but work, for her, is a ritual not to be missed. After a career spanning over 9 years, remarkably rich with experiments in sculptures, wall art and paintings, you might imagine that there would be less anxiety, less compulsion, to toil over every canvas. From the outskirts of her penthouse studio, she looked like a sagely apparition. A bright smile reflecting through eyes that spoke and watched the world. If the details of her persona were obscured—her generous smile smudged into a suggestive inchoateness and she would resemble her own innumerable and loved drawings.
So did you grow up painting?
I never even held a brush till 2007. That was when I returned from Australia in the middle of my Bachelor in Business Studies. Somewhere deep down I knew I’m not in the journey I’m supposed to be in and I don’t want to follow the herd and become a corporate slave. I came back in complete darkness unaware of my next step. Without a well defined future plan or not knowing what my purpose is, I began painting in the quest for happiness. Once I experimented on the canvas and the results were better than expected and close relatives and friends expressed their desire to possess it. I tried my hand at sculptures and then used my painting skills further narrating visual stories on life-size sculptures. A hobthat I had started just to release stress along with Pranic Healing as therapeutic activities turned out to be the purpose of my life.
What boosted your confidence to go even edgier with your designs?
I love experimenting and I despise of being stagnant in life. In 2008 I did my first exhibition at Genesis Art Gallery owned Isha Modi. I had displayed 15 art works out of which 14 was sold out. After that there was no stopping; I went on to do shows in Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai. July 2011 was a good break in my career as I did a solo exhibition at Open Palm Court Gallery in Delhi and Shivinder Mohan Singh of Fortis did the opening of the show and media went into a frenzy. 2012 I did a show in London followed two more. I also went to Jakarta and Miami for a couple of shows and currently I’m working with a Dubai Gallery. A massive demand for my Ganesha and Krishna sculptures grew among my international clients and I decided to make my signature pieces edgier which brought recognition in India after an initial struggle of 5 years.
Would you say you work more on gut feeling or careful calculation?
Interestingly, business and art both have to first come from gut feeling and then calculated. This was in-built in me coming from a traditional Marwari business family. My sculptures in particular are born out of vision and state of mind; ultimately turned into an illustration via high-tech tablets and then comes in the planning of execution followed the actual sculpting and then painting. The painting bit I’d say is not exactly careful calculation because once I pick up a brush I just go with the flow and I never try too hard.
What’s your design approach and philosophy?
You make your environment, your environment makes you! Art should leave a positive impact. And especially if you’re displaying an artwork in your house, it should radiate happiness. As a person also, I’m all about colours and all things bright so none of my work is ever dull or monotone. We tend to get energy from our surroundings and if my art is displayed in your house, you should get a happy feeling overtime you see it. Every colour has it’s own mood and I feel they talk in their own tone. I aim to bring the essence of peace with every piece.
What are the challenges you face during product development?
I don’t even consider those as challenges because if I’m not happy at any stage, I’ll restart even if it’s almost done. I’m ready to bear the cost but not the feeling of unhappiness. As I said, everything is about energy and I paint my belief on the sculptures as well. They are not religious, even though people say but you’re painting Ganesha, Buddha and krishna, I believe they denote positivity, peace and luck thats why they inspire me. I also write shlokas on them that are meant to encourage the buyer to do everything in life as an offering to God. The process of making one piece is first making the sculpture in clay then moulding then fibre casting. The difficult part is making the POP and then readying the mould. This entire process takes a month-and-a-half. But there are other real struggles that I’m still learning to combat.
Breaking the stereotype of being a ‘young’ artist and fighting with a concrete mindset. No-one wants to spend lakhs on an artist who’s not in the Husain or Gujral category. People ask questions such as ‘how many years have you been working as an artist?’ or ‘you don’t even have 20 years of experience so why should I invest in your work?’ But slowly these things are changing and just like my international clients here also people are more concerned about the artwork instead of other notions surrounding it.