A Perfect Blend of Reality and Illusion - Akshita Gandhi
Canvases that carry souls. Her works are surreal and profound - a perfect blend of reality and illusion. They make you feel like you are in hypnagogia. This is the story of Akshita Gandhi (@iamakshitagandhi), a talented multi-media artist from Mumbai and a true artist at heart who explores and experiments with different art mediums for storytelling. Akshita clicks photographs of places she travels to that evoke a sense of belonging and home within her, she then prints them on canvas and creates art over it. An unconventional process, her pieces make you feel like you are oscillating between reality and illusion.
Akshita shares that the lockdown has played a major role in influencing her recent works. She has always been fascinated with time, and the relationship between time and space in particular. “Space remains the same, but as fictional as time may be, it changes everything. Space is stoic and structured, while time is fluid”, she shares. The colorful fictional dream-like elements on the canvas she creates, look ethereal and represent time whereas the solid architecture from the photographs represents space. Her works explore the complex relationship of finding belonging in spaces that are not conventionally “home.” Travel and movement are important themes in her work that are shown through cultural and historical references found in urban landscapes.
Her journey began young. She has been in love with art ever since she can remember and recounts a story that proves how fascinated she was by color even as a child; “On my 3rd birthday, my mother gifted me colored pens, which I used to scribble on the walls of my home and to punish me she scribbled all over my hands with the same pens and said “Look at how dirty you look with these scribbles”. I looked in the mirror and instantly took to the colors and patterns. At that moment my mother realized I had also inherited her love for art.” I was then sent to art lessons at the age of three.” Gandhi shares.
As an artist, Akshita aspires to leave a legacy behind creating iconic immersive experiences and showing Mumbai in ways never seen before. Gandhi was pursuing her BBA in finance and enrolled for foundation fine arts courses in a small art institute next to her university in order to delve deeper into exploring her passion. Akshita believes that isolation can be useful for artists to remain focused and she found that serenity in Dubai, which also exposed her to the right kind of people. It was also helpful that emerging artists are accepted, supported, and encouraged tremendously there and she began her journey by displaying her work at World Art Dubai 2015, which was well-received by art enthusiasts. She began showing internationally since and twenty-five international shows later, here she is, an artist who creates splendid pieces of art while staying true to herself and her work.
Akshita is a woman who wears many hats. She is an Industrialist, an Artist, and a Philanthropist as well. When asked how she is managing it all gracefully, she says that time management is key. She strongly believes that putting a hundred percent into whatever you are doing can enable you to finish the work within a shorter duration. She is constantly creating work and is completely in love with all that it does.
Her series, ‘Freedom, I read banned books’ is a representation of her advocacy on breaking out of gender roles and stereotypes. The work is her protest against patriarchy and her attempt to empower men and women to break free from these structures. Akshita comes from an incredibly progressive family that celebrates women and doesn’t differentiate them from men. On that note, she says her heart aches when she sees women in India and around the world “labeled” and shares that feminism so often sounds prolific and politically correct but the true challenge lies in making a conscious effort by bringing up our children, the next generation in such a manner that they break free from the conditioning that has been ongoing for generations.
Speaking about recent projects, a piece that received tremendous praise is her mixed media work titled Krsnā Consciousness, which is a reflection of her spiritual and emotional transformation this year. The inspiration behind this is a photograph of the Banganga, a temple behind her mother’s house in Mumbai that she used to visit often. During the lockdown, she spent a lot of time meditating and resorted to reading old Indian scriptures familiarising herself with as much knowledge about esoteric and religious practices as she could. Through the creation of the piece, she felt it was almost metamorphosing along with her soul. She used thick layers of resin that made part of the work look glossy, and gave a matte finish on other parts, to give it a 3D feel. She used crystals, intricate detailing, and gold foil to make the art piece look more interesting. She was fascinated by how it all fell in place together after four months of hard work. Akshita found a sense of awakening and peace while creating this piece. The time she consumes to work on an artwork ranges from a few days to months depending on the size and mediums she chooses to work with. Gandhi also enjoys working on multiple pieces at the same time sharing that along with busy months she also takes long breaks from creating art in order to come back with a fresh eye and perspective, which comes from life experiences, travel, and meeting new people.
Gandhi agrees that being an artist is challenging, “putting your work out there is like putting a piece of your soul, and months of your life on a canvas. How it will be received cannot be predicted - some will fall in love with it, while some might not. It’s subjective.” She believes that no matter the response, you need to constantly remind yourself that it's all about your journey and keeping it real.
Every day, Akshita strives to improve herself. She is constantly traveling to study and research the international art market. Recently, she was at Art Basel Switzerland, the largest art fair in the world that connects collectors, gallerists, and artists. “I spent time looking at what was being sold and appreciated, from the very beginning to the end of the fair. It is important for artists to look at other works, be constantly updated, learn and research.” She believes it can empower one to broaden their horizons. “As an artist, you need to practice and play with different mediums. Art is a sum total of your experiences. When you have access to constructive criticism, you grow and evolve faster.” says Akshita.
Gandhi also runs a charity organization called Dua foundation along with her sister Priyanka Gandhi, which was started in the memory of their pet dog Simba. The organization handpicks vulnerable members of society and helps them achieve financial independence by cultivating and enhancing their art and craft skills.
For her, success is representing India in places where not many Indians may have had the opportunity to exhibit their work. She wants to represent her country and take her work to as many places as she can. She was the only Indian chosen by the jury at an art fair in the Hamptons, and her painting is currently being used by the United Nations’ Chamber of Music Society for an event to celebrate the UN’s 76th anniversary. The work is titled, “Infinite” and uses Varli, a traditional Indian art form to support UN’s Village Health Works. She is humbled that her work and an Indian art form will be witnessed by people around the world.
“Do not start your career pursuing art as a mainstream career option. Get a job, fund yourself to be an artist. Being an artist is not easy. When you are in a position to quit your job to be a full-time artist, do it. Make sure you do not burn out in your early years otherwise you’ll become resentful about being an artist in your later years. Stay true to your style, copying and plagiarizing is a big no-no,” shares Akshita, a fabulous artist and a beautiful woman inside out. Akshita Gandhi is currently showing her lightbox and mixed media work with the Arushi Gallery, “The Hourglass Overturned,” in Los Angeles.