Artist Vignesh Kumar shares his journey with miniature art
The Kumbakonam-based artist first attempted miniature art when he was in class 9 and had tried to create a boat out of a piece of chalk
For some, it is the emotions that art invokes in them that makes it worthwhile, for others, it may be the way colours, textures and lines play with each other. But, at the end of the day, its appeal comes down to the details of the artwork. It gets even more impressive when they are intricate.
At a glance upon Vignesh Kumar’s artwork, one may dismiss it as just another piece of art. But it is only when you notice the crease of his finger holding up the elephant or the painting of a parrot on rice, the carving of birds or the transformer Bumblebee on a pencil, that it really jumps out as incredible.
The Kumbakonam-based artist first attempted miniature art when he was in class 9 and had tried to create a boat out of a piece of chalk. But this interest bloomed to the prospect of a serious career only about five years ago, after a serious detour. “I studied my BSc from a college in Tiruchy. My family wanted me to be an engineer but I wanted to do art.
So, after college, I joined Image Multimedia Institute in Salem. I tried to find a job but couldn’t settle on one of my likings and that’s when the work of Salavat Fidai and Karnataka-based artist Sachin Sanghe’s inspired me to try micro sculpture and Hasan Kale inspired me to take up micro paintings,” he shares. And so, once again, Vignesh put knife to chalk and tested his skills. Unfortunately, the city’s humidity did not serve the medium well as the chalk would break off from the moisture. After trying his hand on graphite next, he finally settled on Apsara white colour pencils and grains of rice that stood strong in the heat.
With his new media, a 000 point paintbrush and pen knife, Vignesh began giving life to his ideas, even starting commission work from his house. He also started posting the results — and some videos of the making — on social media to interesting responses. “When I posted my art on Tamil Nadu groups and international subreddits, there were many who refused to believe that it was real. Some accused me of using a 3D printer, others said it was ‘maayajaalam’. I mentioned to them that there were videos of the making online but they still wouldn’t believe me,” he shares.
Where there is disbelief on one end, there is comparison on the other. As an entrepreneur and miniature artist, Vignesh finds his prices always being compared to other artwork, especially since it is “a lot smaller than the rest”. However, Vignesh explains that miniature art is not an easy feat. “When it is, say, an A4 sheet of paper, you can see the entire thing and have an idea of the space for each detail. In rice paintings, even a small paint stroke can cover up the entire grain.
So, your hands have to be very precise. The rice painting requires us to wait for the paint to dry and the entire process takes, at the low end, 2-3 hours or could be up to 5-6 hours. The pencil carving takes not too much time, except for the painting. Because of that, it could even be a few days. The paint will peel off if it hasn’t dried well. So, it doesn’t matter if it takes time, I make sure it is done well,” he says. For his commission work, Vignesh has even worked for a gaming company in China, turning their logo into a pencil carving.
He admits, “Here in India, miniature art is not given importance by most people, You see many artists online showing off their paintings and sculptures but five out of a 100 would be invested in miniatures. Despite it being a part of our prehistoric times — you can see miniature art in temples — it is a very underdeveloped field here. My wish is for this to change and more recognition to come our way,” Vignesh signs off.
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