Visual Artist, Saumya Shukla Depicts Nostalgia And Nightmare Through Surreal Imagery

Visual Artist, Saumya Shukla Depicts Nostalgia And Nightmare Through Surreal Imagery
Saumya Shukla

Saumya is a visual artist/designer whose work involves building visual narratives around people, experiences, nostalgia, dreams and nightmares. Saumya’s art practice revolves around constantly experimenting with a combination of digital and traditional media, alongside a growing interest in public art. Surrealism with an underlying tone of minimalism is her usual language. She draws inspiration from her life and interprets the human experience through bizarre, symbolic imagery, while also exploring newer ways of giving voice to her work. The artist spoke to us about how she goes about her craft as well as the various artists and individuals that influence her.

What are some of your biggest influences as an artist?

My art is largely influenced by Surrealism and Dadaism to some extent, besides my personal experiences and very vivid dreams and nightmares. The inner turmoil and anxieties that I and the people around me struggle with on the regular also make their way into what I create. As a kid, I was introduced to the works of Dali through an email forward, and I’ve felt closer to his works as my general body of work continued to (and continues to) evolve.

Who are some artists that are currently on your radar?

Sally Deng and Sydney Smith.

What is a project you wish you were a part of?

A dream of a thousand cats, the animation directed by Hisko Hulsing.

What are some things you learned while putting this project together?

'Touch' was made during the first lockdown, when I was dealing with a lot of emotional turbulence, much like several others. This was my first attempt at channelling my emotions into something that I wanted people to see. I witnessed the rage in me take another form when put on paper, and I realized that creating comics/ series of this kind is slowly becoming my coping mechanism. I often go back to this form of expression, which in turn gives me more freedom to explore other ideas moving forward.

Tell us about your project.

'Touch' was a result of a reminiscence of the times when we could touch, hug and hold each other before the pandemic changed it all for all of us. As we slowly get back to normal, or as we now call it- the new normal, and find ways of living with the pandemic, we’re left with feelings of inner turmoil and very many existential questions. 'Touch' is thereby a mix of melancholy and hope.

What are some of your biggest inspirations over the years of your artistic career?

It’s particularly hard for me to answer this question because more often than not, I draw inspiration from the people around me — the people I encounter every day. I journal conversations, things that I sometimes overhear (mostly not on purpose haha), the most random and irrational thoughts, etc. Quite a bit of my other work is rooted in surrealism. Over the years, I’ve found music to be a huge source of inspiration behind what I create and it helps to constantly put ideas in the back of my head.

Describe your creative process and the purpose with which you create.

I always see stories around me in the people that I meet and even the ones that I don’t. I feel that creating/ recreating visuals of the things that I see and feel is also my responsibility as an artist. 

My process begins with an idea that keeps rolling in my head and doesn’t get translated till it overwhelms me. I don’t like binding my work to a specific style, although with each medium, a certain language takes the front seat. 

I create because I’ve been doing this ever since I could hold a pencil, but I also create because art is resilience for me. It helps me get out of tough situations, gives direction to my thoughts, lets me create a whole new world based on my dreams and nightmares, etc. As someone who doesn’t like being very vocal, art gives me opportunities to communicate what I cannot imagine words to do justice to.

You can check out Saumya's work here.

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