Siddhesh Gautam is a bit of a storyteller, with his illustrations cleverly mapping the political scenario of the country and addressing social issues with a satirical disguise. His surrealistic approach to art conveniently delivers messages of significance, such as caste inequality and inefficient healthcare access, and provides for a refreshing medium of awareness. We had a chance to talk to the Pune-based artist, and here’s what he had to say about his work and the thought process behind it.
Tell us about your project.
Dalit: A handbook; is an informative artbook which reflects upon the current stage of dalit revolution. It’s a collection of many stories, portraits, rants and complaints, compiled in a format that society approves to be ‘decent’ and ‘non-preposterous’. It’s a collection of many voices framed in one tone that is not considered ‘shouting’. It’s a collection of many ideology of the same community which do not lead to any sort of ‘ism’. It’s a collection of many grievances that would probably not affect our ‘future’.
‘HG loves’ the creative method of the artist to approach grave issues that require our attention, and the uniqueness of his illustrated art that sets a tone awareness amongst the viewers.
What are some of your biggest inspirations over the years of your artistic career?
Art History has been the fuel for my work ever since I started drawing for a purpose. The Protest Art and Photojournalism are the biggest driving force for my work. I have been mesmerized by the work of the Dadaists, Surrealists, Modernists, Hippies, Guerrilla Girls, Banksy etc.
Describe your creative process and the purpose with which you create.
My creative process starts very organic. I spend a lot of time talking to people at ground as I try to participate in social design and activism activities. Small conversations lead to short stories; one story leads to the other, and some stories remain. I generally build my work upon such real life stories and incidences and try to collect as much data as possible. Post this my work is based on in-depth research on the subject. I aim to create much more than superficially beautiful objects. My work is meant to challenge your preconceptions, expand your mind, honor the sacred, and evoke feelings of adventure, exploration, and deep connection with the self.
If you could propose and lead a project with the Indian Government, what would it be?
I am quite impressed with The Federal Art Project which was the visual arts arm of the Great Depression-era Works Progress Administration in The USA. I believe a central government lead Visual Art Arm is required in our nation too, only if instead of propaganda we spread awareness for the well being of the society at large.
Which is your favourite piece of work of your own & why?
My favorite piece of work of my own is the Syrian Kid VI, from a series of illustrations on the lost Syrian kids. The illustration is a portrait of an unidentified kid from Syria who was photographed holding a bunch of grapes but was never found again. For the project I collected the photographs of such lost kids and illustrated them with additional elements. In the case of Syrian Kid VI, I simply replaced the bunch of grapes with a hand grenade. The poster was painted of the size of a basketball court but was never put up anywhere as it was seized by the authority concerned.
On a personal note -
One track you’re currently listening to?
Ain’t Got No, I Got Life by Nina Simone
A project you wish you were a part of?
I wish I was one of the draftsmen of any of the three Surrealist Manifestos
Your favourite midnight munchies?
French Toast and Tea
Your greatest vice?
If you liked Siddhesh’s work, check out his Instagram here.
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