Tête-à-Tête: Advait Nadavdekar
The Wise Owl has a friendly chat with Advait Nadavdekar, an upcoming artist and student at the prestigious Sir JJ School of Art in Mumbai (India). Advait excels in life-like portraits and has been awarded Sir JJ School of Art Best Artwork Award 2019, Mumbai Mayor’s Award in 2014, 2015 and 2017. He has also been honoured with Best Portrait Award 2022 by the Art Society of India and the Kumar Ratna Award by Sir JJ School of Art Award 2022. He has exhibited his work at the Nehru Centre Art Gallery, Worli (Mumbai, India) and West Zone Cultural Centre in Bagor ki Haveli, Udaipur (Rajasthan, India). He has also attended the National Art Camp 2021 and the Darohar Art camp held by the West Zone Cultural Centre 2021.
Thank you Advait, for talking to The Wise Owl.
Q. First up we would like to know what inspired you to take up art as a subject and make it a part of your life? What influences in your life made you pick up a brush or a drawing pencil? Did you have any creative mentor who encouraged you and egged you on to pursue and hone your talent?
A. Since my childhood, I had this strong fondness for art. I used to scribble anywhere and everywhere I could. My father being an artist, he used to work in our studio and I would quietly observe him paint for hours. Maybe I started my art journey even before I knew anything about it. My parents have been my pillars. I call them my support system. They encouraged me to pursue and practice art. I remember, unlike other parents who bought their kids toys and took then to gaming zones in the malls, my parents would bring me art material and would take me to art galleries and museums. Most of my bedtime stories used to be of artists, singers, musicians, theatre artists, dancers, cricketers and their journeys. I think my parents moulded me into whatever I am now.
Q. When I look at your repertoire of work, I find that you do excel in life-like, realistic portraits or figures. I’m sure our readers and viewers would be eager to know why you have chosen this particular niche to explore.
A. I always have been fascinated by the human form. A man is a social animal and he needs people to express or emote; I find that interesting. I love observing people, their personalities, their behaviour and their characteristics. I like to portray the personality of the person who I choose as a subject in my paintings. Since I was young, I have been trying to capture people in their own element. I remember making sketches of my teachers while teaching, in my textbooks. I have a series of sketches I made of people traveling in local trains of Mumbai. These sketches portray their struggle, melancholy and their lifestyle.
Q. I see that you do oils as well as pencil sketches. We would like to know which medium is closest to your heart and which you enjoy using the most? Which medium do you find the most challenging?
A. I have been handling watercolours and pencils since my childhood. I then started experimenting with poster colours and then acrylics. I experimented in oil much later. All of these mediums have been my best friends, and the more I experimented with them, the more I learnt about them. Honestly, I really can’t choose my favourite medium, because all of them are very close to my heart. Watercolour is said to be the most difficult medium, but I never felt that way because I’ve known and experimented with watercolours since very long and it won’t be wrong to say that it is my oldest friend.
Q. Tell us a little about your creative process. Tell us about how you zero in on your subject, decide the medium, select the colours, select the paper and brushes that will best showcase your subject etc
A. For me, the subject is the origin of an artwork. The medium depends on the subject of my artwork. Some subjects demand transparency and fluidity where as some demand thick, strong and juicy application. After years of experimentation on various materials and surfaces, I choose the surface depending on the grain size the artwork wants. If I want to paint thick and want texture, I go for a large grain cotton canvas, and if I want softness in the painting, I go for a fine grain cotton canvas or a linen canvas. Also in watercolours, I choose the paper based on its property to soak water and absorb paint. I use soft synthetic hair brushes of various length and sizes for smoother areas, and long handle bristle brushes for textured areas. I choose my colour palette on the base of the mood I want to emote in the painting.
Q. I’m curious to know if you pick your subjects from the real people around you? And if that is so what is it you search for in a subject that you would like to paint or sketch?
A. Sometimes it is a characteristic or personality of a person that I find fascinating, sometimes it is a mood, and sometimes it is a story that makes me want to paint it. The common thread in all of this is emotion. The emotion or the sensitivity of a subject inspires me to capture it from my perspective.
Q. Your portraits are so life-like that one might be forgiven for thinking that they will walk out of the canvas. What technique do you use to make your work so realistic?
A. While painting in watercolour, I use the 'wet in wet' technique. In this technique, the paint is applied and blended into one another while the paper is wet. This adds to the beauty of the watercolour and brings oneness to the painting. While handling oil colours, I often use 'alla prima' technique, which was widely used by the impressionist and post-impressionist painters. In this technique paint is laid over and over without letting the previous paint dry. I also use techniques such as 'impasto', 'underpainting' and 'grisaille'.
Q. Are there any old masters or contemporary artists that inspire you? What is it about them that attracts you?
A. Old masters have always been an inspiration for me. I have learned a lot from observing their paintings. I always try to decode their paintings and try finding out how they have managed to attain such breathtaking effects. There is a long list of masters that inspire me, but to name a few, Sir John Singer Sargent, Anders Zorn, Nicolai Fechin. I feel a strong connect with them when I read about the way they thought, the problems they faced, the passion they had, the journey they experienced. The confidence, perfection and ease in their artworks attracts me to them.
Q. You have won so many awards and accolades at such a young age. Does that make you want to reach greater heights, or do you feel that it has increased the burden of expectation on you?
A. I feel very humble and honoured every time I receive an award or achieve something. But I never paint having any expectations. I like to keep my creative process pure and untouched by the thought of expectations and achievements. Appreciation and recognition of an artwork comes after the artwork is created. Awards and accolades definitely encourage me, but I never let them burden me. To this I would like to recall the shloka from Bhagvad Geeta , 'Karmanye vadhikaraste ma phaleshu kadachana.'
Q. You are young and have your entire life ahead of you. What is your ultimate goal as an artist?
A. I think setting an ultimate goal will create a predetermined fixed path. I want to experience each and every aspect and want to explore all the possibilities that I can. I want to flow like a river and fly like a free bird. My ultimate goal is to become the best version of myself and seek ultimate satisfaction in my art journey.
Q. Art is becoming more and more commercialized with artists ready to customize art for people buying art to match their décor. Any comments on this unfortunate trend.
A. Any form of art is first created by an artist, and then is performed or displayed in front of an audience. While creating any piece of art, the artist has something that he or she wants to portray or put forward to the audience. When the emotion or the thought that an artist puts into his artwork reaches and resonates with the viewer, the artwork is considered to be complete. This is the process by which one can enjoy the artform. But when the very intent of creating an art piece becomes to impress the viewer, the artwork loses its purity. That is when the commercial aspect comes in and corrupts the whole process of making art. There is a very thin line between this, all one can do is be honest to oneself and loyal to the art. Once an artist creates art with honesty, he will find his own niche, and the commercial audience will accept, appreciate and will want to buy the artworks.
Q. Would you like to give any tips or advice to upcoming artists or even your own peers on how to hone their craft?
A. I would like to say that, one should be honest to his art. It is said that 'Art is a mirror, it reflects you.' Believing in oneself is very important. One should present or project oneself through one's artworks. I would like to share a quote which I get to hear from my parents, which goes like, 'There is always room on the top.' Always compete with yourself, and aim to become better than what you are today.
Thank you so much Advait for talking to The Wise Owl. We wish you the best in your creative and artistic pursuits and hope you become a name to reckon with, not only in India but also in the global arena.