The juicy, delicious offerings of summer often inspire mango-fused desserts, cocktails, dishes and pickles. But for some artists, mango season inspires a whole series of illustrations dedicated to the shapes and forms of the beloved fruit. Case-in-point, artist Ipshita Thakur drew plenty of seasonal inspiration from the fruit for her illustrations. “As a child, my summers in Delhi or Agra were pregnant with the anticipation of mangoes. As an adult, I still feel that mangoes, in particular are the only redeeming quality of Indian summers other than Laburnums in bloom,” she shares.
“I had been poring over botanical illustrations and still life creations by the likes of Cézanne and Meléndez, for they present a fascinating documentation of our relationship with food. Then, Hyperallergic ran an article on the evolution of watermelons through still lifes. A stunning visual showcase of how watermelons looked rather different from what we’ve come to expect today. Come summer, I knew I just had to make a series documenting mangoes. It’s a work in progress.”
Her creative process draws learning from everything around her, and as she elaborates, “I would describe my practice as one driven by restlessness and curiousity in equal parts. Drawing inspiration from my immediate environment and then combining them with narratives I come across in books, during research and conversations. I try to self-educate myself in topics like gender, anatomy, neuroscience, literature, science fiction etc. Primarily, I draw using markers, pastels and other dry/wet mediums a lot because of their ease of use, if in a hurry, a ball pen works just as well.” The nature of the idea decides the medium she uses, from painting to photography to creating assemblages, with illustrations being fairly new to the mix. In the last four years or so, Thakur tells us, her work as evolved to include more found objects, “My pockets are often filled with rocks amongst other things I pick up and small sketchbooks are brimming with pressed flowers, leaves, scraps of papers, twigs and the odd bug I’ve collected. Similarly, the sight and textures of fresh produce can leave me strangely fixated.”
The versatility of mango as a fruit and the joy it brings every summer became the basic concept of her series, as Thakur shares, “what I love about a mango is obviously it’s taste and considering how many different types of mangoes there are, each one tastes different. Personally, I love a combination of sweet and sour.” Her series featured on her Facebook page, curiously titled ‘Not An’ or ‘Not An Artist’ which she explains started off as a bit of an inside joke. “It was my way of engaging with the myth of being an artist. It’s extremely hard to make a living through creative work. Almost all of my peers, fellow artists and mentors have a second/day job to support their creative pursuits. Despite my reasons for creating it, the page has in fact turned out to be a great way for me to connect with new audiences.”
Scroll on for Ipshita Thakur’s work-in-progress series ‘Mangoes As I Eat Them’ as featured on Not An.
View more of Ipshita Thakur’s art here.