Art has been a fine element of sophistication that is done and executed with utmost meticulous delicacy through the layers of colours, shapes and bewilderment of where the brush may take the hands of thee.
Visithra Manikam is no stranger to the world of art. Her creations express and present beautiful exquisite pieces of astonishment breaking multiple decrepitude stereotypes of the society through her intricate details featured in her paintings.
She possesses such confound adroitness in art that each of her painting becomes an embedment of daunting words and portraying meanings of the convoluted minds of our society.
We at Varnam had the pleasure of interviewing the virtuoso as she took us into an awe-inspiring journey through her artistic embellishments.
Varnam: How did you embark on this journey of becoming a self-taught visual artist?
Visithra: I used to paint kolams at a very young age. I moved into a house in 2016 and there was a piece of art at that one particular place and the moment I saw the art, I wanted it and that’s when I started painting. Ever since I painted that art I couldn’t stop painting.
You see, I paint because I have sleeping problems and to move into paintings, I painted to sleep. From there, I eventually moved on into painting portraits and I developed a style. Soon realising I wanted to do arts with meaning, and I too experienced a lot of issues happening around us such as colour discrimination, body shaming and racism, hence incorporating them into my paintings.
Varnam: How do you explore and curate your art based on psychological aspects?
Visithra: A lot of it came from reading. I have two ways in coming up with art, firstly I sometimes get visions and then it gets into a painting and I figure out why this painting is as such. The second element to it is resembling our 3 types of mind, conscious mind, collective consciousness and unconscious mind. My paintings are more deliberating into collective consciousness.
Varnam: Have you ever thought of expanding your skills by teaching them to other artists?
Visithra: Im not into teaching because there’s a lot of people teaching and I’m still learning myself. I believe everyone can be an artist, it doesn’t come from teaching. You have to explore and create something. Everyone can be an artist if they believe so, it doesn’t constraint to teaching.
Varnam: Have you received any backlashes from your bold artwork and how did you overcome it?
Visithra: Yes, with every good comes the bad because some people are able to connect to it and some are not able to do so, due to the fact that a lot of us are used to commercial art like what we see in magazines and TVs. Art is derived from our own perspective, some connect to it saying the piece looks like them, some see the dark colours and question why is the lady covered in mud and feels disgusted.
Every response from them is different and I always seem to get both good and bad. If you do realise a lot of my paintings has a lot of eyes, so some walk in and walk out because they tend to feel afraid of those eyes. They feel judged by them, however, I have seen children that were easily attracted to the eyes because it was very appealing and captivating to them.
Varnam: In the journey of battling body shaming, have you regretted being in your own skin?
Visithra: Yes, I did during my 20’s. My father was dark and my mother was fair, so when I used to go with my mom, people tend to look at us with this question filled face and I immediately jumped in and popped the question playing on the mind that we don’t look alike.
However, I had more problems with my body and I tend to always cover them with baggy, long sleeved clothes. Eventually, I realised that I have to start loving myself and not live in people’s opinion with their own meaning to beauty. That thought completely changed everything on how I looked at things, and I eventually painted it in my drawings to break this stereotypical thinking!
Varnam: In all the paintings created, have you ever regretted doing any?
Visithra: No I don’t regret any art that I have done, but every artist creates a painting that they destroy. They just simply paint over it when they believe they are done with it or don’t seem to like it at a point of time. At times, when you look behind certain art you can see another painting in the background.
There’s one painting, I hold very close to my heart that I would never sell which is a tiger that looks like an owl. Some can only see an owl and some tend to immediately identify the tiger. In most of my paintings, I like to hide little owls at the sides cause I like owls.
Varnam: Being a visual artist, how do you see the public now? How would you describe them in a drawing?
Visithra: Throughout the pandemic, I was in 2 different types of state, I wanted to move out of my house and was stuck there with a house full of boxes. Right after I moved out, I created this new western art style called expressionism, featuring abstract portraits documenting different things happening.
Varnam: Is Visual arts from your point of view, receiving enough support and exposure in general? What kind of support is needed?
Visithra: I don’t think so cause our art in the country is too colonised and looked from the western side of view. Locals want and prefer art that feeds to more of the western ideology, however, this is never an issue abroad, but it is a big factor here and they tend to claim our art as not good enough.
So, Malaysians need to open up their mind and views here cause we tend to get more appreciation for these genres of art in other countries. In Japan, there’s a whole museum filled with this sort of Indian art.
We need to have a form of higher acceptance and appreciation of our local artists in order to value the various genres of one’s artistic indulgences.
Art is never a simple concoction to blend or stir. The touch of bliss to create and realise it’s essence requires the idleness of an intricate mind. Visithra’s art is undeniably a piece of awe filled with the eyes intricating a detailed conception of the minds of our society.
Such eye-gasmic creations are sure to open our eyes to a million details happening around us!