Young Indian artist Sachin Bhatt has been both inspired and restricted by his homeland's societal structure. It's through the boundless limits of music that his art is able to fully take shape.
Women figure heavily in the illustrations of Bangalore born Bhatt. The female figures are in traditional Indian garb, bejewelled and robed, vibrant and lush. They're also regularly featured dramatically. Whether it be an intense sadness that has manifested itself across their faces or a transgressive and defiant stance, smoking a joint, looking carelessly at the viewer.
The piece, Pre-Marital Jitters shows such a woman, except it goes a long way in refuting the easy presumption that she is indeed defiant. Instead, she's numb. Orthodox India still conduct arranged marriages and the way this character deals with it is through the consumption of alcohol and drugs.
Bhatt states that, "Orthodox India constantly looks down on women involved with taboo activities and this illustration is meant to question such an old and unnecessary mindset." It's something he views as archaic and limiting. It's his innate sensitivity and kinship to females that allows him to understand and illustrate such sentiments so acutely.
Bhatt grew up surrounded by woman and has always felt more comfortable in their company. He's bucking the trend of the traditionalist society from which he stems. Regret, Regret / Mallige Melt is another take on the theme of arranged marriage where a woman gazes despondently and hopelessly into an unknown future. Such practices rightly infuriate Bhatt, yet his treatment of this falls more into line with empathy rather than rage.
His home country has given him an innate interest in form and colour. The henna, flowers, fabrics and foods of India are globally recognised as vibrant and intense. It's a society that is very outwardly open and joyous, yet underneath the surface, it's complex and restrictive. This stunts the chances of changing cultural values and views on contemporary movements in art, music and fashion.
It's in music that Bhatt is able to emancipate his hands and his mind from the oppression that dictates the actions and behaviours of his fellow people. Bhatt uses the countries own cultures against itself, to question the taboos that pervade society. But in music, he can fully explore his own creative ideals and goals.
With the freedom granted by music, his art becomes more light-hearted and whimsical, featuring humorous takes on gun violence ('Spray bums, not bullets') and creating artwork for bands, musicians and gigs. An interpretation of Unknown Mortal Orchestra's Can't Keep Checking My Phone is a particular example of his balanced, yet psychedelic influences.
A lot of his work is surrealistic. Images of lives and realities that aren't immediate to the human psyche - they require looking a little deeper. It makes perfect sense for someone in such an enclosed society to explore these forms of artistic expression. It's a flight away from his reality. Through art, by the vehicle of music, Bhatt is an astronaut.
It's the unique insight into Indian society that he grants us that gives him his strength. The best way to change something comes from the inside and through his delicate explorations of his own culture, he's giving the world a chance to reinterpret their preconceptions of India. It's also his use of Indian culture that permeates his musical based work that allows him to stand out in a sea of illustrators that are all over our social media feeds. Bhatt is something different, he's a change from the norm. It's this word, change, that is important. Not just the change of style he presents, but his mission to change our minds.
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