‘Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.’ - Banksy
A picture might be worth 1,000 words but when the picture is as outspoken as Abhilash Badhha’s, words are hardly necessary at all. He started off - as many Indians do - on a path to a career in Engineering, but towards the end of his first year in college was led down the new and more exciting path of graphic design. Being a creator has always been a part of his personality “I’ve always been into art and writing from a very young age and art has always been the best medium for me to express my ideas.” he says, but with the launch of his merchandising and illustration brand ‘high&above’ he began to see it as a full-time pursuit.
Attending college in Pune was the true catalyst for this experience “It wasn’t until I moved to Pune that I discovered a lot of artists.” he explains, but prior to that his older brother was the major influence to his craft “He was my window to the art scene and pop culture.” Within the art sphere he cites subversive artists like Banksy, Daku, Amber Ibarreche and Priyesh Trivedi as his inspiration for his political and satire-driven creations.
Despite having a strong network of friends and family supporting his pursuits he notes that India can still be a difficult market for artists to crack. He was setting out into the field with no prior experience or artistic background and being entirely self-taught has been his greatest struggle so far “Self taught art is full of trial and error and a lot of observation based study. So it is a tiring and never ending process.” Most of his work is done on paper or canvas and he prefers to work in a physical medium and then transfer it to digital if need be. “I like the experimentation aspect of my learning as it has helped me to not be confined to a particular style and to learn without boundaries of medium.”
He aims with every piece to speak a message to his viewers, he refuses to filter his work and believes that “Art should challenge the status quo and make people question everything.” He believes there is a space for subversive art in India, one that is constantly being challenged by artists in all spheres and making the public sit up and take notice “Subversive art tends to demand it’s presence to be felt and demands a place in people’s mind to be pondered about and in turn helps shape the ideology of people.”
Some of India’s more prominent modern artists have built their names on saying the things people aren’t prepared or aren’t willing to hear, and though Abhilash is one of that ilk, his work is far outside the realm of ordinary. With every stroke of the brush or pen, he outlines the reality of India’s shortcomings and speaks to a rapt and youthful audience about the issues that need to be heard today.
“I think the ‘space man’ piece I made some time ago is something I like the most. Mostly due to the fact that it is very ambiguous and multi dimensional. It shows that how the figurine of the gods is nothing but an artist’s creation and as my interpretation of the almighty I choose to portray science and advancement as the Creator and destroyer of life.”
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