“Nilesh Vede has an incredible ability to translate his thoughts on[to] paper or canvas.”
~ Salman Khan, Bollywood actor
I first saw Nilesh Vede‘s work a month ago at the Jehangir Art Gallery itself, as part of a group showing. And I fell in love with it, instantaneously. During our conversation on vipassana meditation and its translation to art, he invited me to his upcoming solo exhibition ‘Selfie’. It was an invitation I had every intention of accepting. 🙂
Vede, one of India’s finest young contemporary artists, describes Selfie as a documentation of his own personal journeys within himself. But the fact is Selfie touches a deep rooted quivering chord already within each one of us. The large square canvases, finely modeled textured faces staring straight into the viewers’ eyes, or downcast in deep thought, hold one’s attention and don’t let it go. And as one looks back at those eyes, one is drawn in into the finer nuances of digging within, almost like rediscovering secrets about oneself.
Using canvases rarely ever less than a meter wide, and a palette consisting predominantly of gold, silver and aquamarine, Vede has over the past 11 years created a story telling style in acrylic painting that is unflinchingly his, and his alone. A student from L.S. Raheja School of Arts and Sir J.J. School of Arts, Mumbai, his work has since found a place in the collections of Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and various Bollywood celebrities including Salman Khan, Aamir Khan, and Hrithik Roshan, to name a few.
Vede’s Selfie explores the perennial obsession we have with the image we present to the outside world for approval, acceptance, and self esteem. A mask that we not only allow to take over our waking moments, but carry along with us into our sleep, to churn its way through our dreams.
Once making us aware of our predicament, Vede slowly pushes us deeper into another truth that we all know, read and talk about, but rarely apply. And then one sees it blazoned across a canvas, and it hits home. It is our sheer naivety in placing our joys, sorrows, success, failures – giving our very ‘key’ to the outside world to the extent that we eventually become obsessively preoccupied with it. The selfie becomes even more real in our minds and we end up being a marionette to others, or whipped to nothingness when our selfie gets rejected.
But it’s not a lost cause. The answer, Vede suggests almost matter-of-factly, is in simply letting us take our own selfies, honestly, always mindful, for ourselves. And that is where our liberation takes place, and subsequently the realization of our own power. When we, and only we, become our own audience.
Maybe it is his almost adamant insistence of one’s own inner wisdom as being the only legitimate path for personal growth, which is where his transcendent concepts evolve from. Perhaps it is his foray into textile design in the early years of his adulthood which has led to the ethereal textures, taking the form of motifs and ancient Sanskrit scripts, that drape the faces and dark unsolved backgrounds. Nonetheless, the result is that Vede’s striking yet serene paintings remain etched both within one’s consciousness and sub-consciousness. It leaves the viewer with questions, and more importantly, answers that one feels has set one free, much like the angelic wings that sprout from his canvases’ intense gazing faces.
– – –
Nilesh Vede: Selfie is on display at the Hirji Jehangir Gallery, Kala Ghoda, Mumbai, 6-12 August, from 11 am to 7 pm.
The Golden Key, sadly placed on our back
Meditative Rejuvenation when we look within
Blessed after Repentance
Key to Success. This is undoubtedly my favorite; It was sold three days into the showing.
Left: Inner Power; Right: Nilesh Vede, the artist
[All images courtesy Nilesh Vede]