When you see Pallav Chander’s intricate mazes, bursts of colour and raw talent it’s hard to believe that all his school Chander wanted nothing to do with art. He saw his mother’s art practice and says he ‘took art for granted’. Today Chander is definitely an emerging artist to watch. Recipient of the 2019 Junior Fellowship by the Indian Ministry of Culture his works adorn walls from India to Turkey to the United States.
In an open and honest interview Chander provided me with personal insights into his practice. His practice is a representation of his mood, feelings, view on society, and most distinctively inclusion and sometimes product of his learning disabilities.
TB: Have you always wanted to be an artist?
PC: Initially I wanted to be an actor, I definitely did not want a 9-5 job and I wasn’t interested in art. I saw so much of it around me that I took it for granted. At 18 I saw works of (Indian) masters and asked mom (his mother is illustrious artist Kanchan Chander), ‘why are contemporary artists not like this?’ I wanted to create art that I wanted to see, but I knew it would be tough because I had no formal training in art. So I enrolled in a BA pass at the DCAC (Delhi College of Arts and Commerce), but in my second year I failed. So I went with my portfolio to the British Council to apply for a grant and next thing I knew I got an offer to attend City University Birmingham for a sponsored course in painting.
TB: So art was basically your destiny, even if you did discover it later on. But today if you were not an artist what would you be?
PC: Art is within me, it is my purpose. I wouldn’t be anything else. Art doesn’t just mean that I am a painter; I am creator, a storyteller, a director. I cannot breathe without it, so nothing else.
TB: Who are some of your artist inspiration?
PC: Definitely mom (Kanchan Chander), while we do have different styles, it is from her that I understand about narrative quality in art. In terms of styles I am inspired by Souza, Picasso and Basquiat. In college my main influence was Rauschenberg. The artist I most closely resonate with is Van Gogh. His core value of painting everyday and becoming the art is how I feel about art as well. I learnt about these beliefs when I read his letters and that’s when I completely related.
TB: You mentioned Basquiat and Picasso as two of your inspirations, they were both notoriously disrespectful to women, and what do you think about the notion that the art and the artist can be separated?
PC: They were both extremely famous in their lifetimes; they were treated in an almost god-like way. Picasso specifically was an open narcissist. It is difficult to separate the art from the artist and when an artist is badly behaved there is more intrigue about his work and that’s when the value also increases, or you think because you are famous you can do anything.
TB: And now for the million dollar question, what are you thoughts on nepotism in the art world? Has it helped you?
PC: It has definitely helped me make connections, or for mom to introduce me to people. But I am clear about one thing I don’t want charity. If you don’t like my work, don’t buy it; don’t buy it as a favour to my mom or me. People have respected that and will only buy my work if they like it. I know I’m good, in that way I am a narcissist. So I know I can meet people, but I know they will buy my work only if it speaks to them.
TB: Speaking about your work and including narrative, do you think your works are satirical?
PC: My life is satirical. I was obsessed with finding muses, I have always been surrounded only by women authorities, and whenever I do find a muse it’s a woman. However, eventually I started observing society so I started painting my response to society. Satire is my subjective take on society.
TB: What’s one word that you would use to describe your practice?
PC: Pallav- it’s narcissistic, but if you remove my identity from the work, there is no art.
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