I have always loved the idea of collaborations: multitude of ideas mashing and meshing together, divergent skills and perspectives merging into a hugely textured confluence. Even though I don't know that much about Hindustani classical music, what I am familiar with is the notion of jugalbandi. I had always sought to perform an artistic jugalbandi of my own, what with my writing and someone's art. I was curious to see how someone would respond to my work and vice versa and what new doors of thought and looking would the jugal-bandi open into my work and hopefully, their own too.
When I initially started following Vidya Gopal's Instagram account, she was @spink_bottle for me for the longest time; however, we soon began exchanging comments, notes on IG, and emails, seguing into food for thought conversations about creativity, productivity, what we were reading, and whatnot and - it all recently and happily reached a 'shall we collaborate?' moment.
But first, a word about Vidya's truly beautiful water-color and ink illustrations; if you cast even a mere glimpse, you will find yourself swimming through thoughtful, whimsical, colorful painting studies about flowering fuchsia bougainvilleas, dreaming, eccentric women, budding Tendulkars, coffee drinkers in a cafe, gulmohar petals migrating from hand to paper and so much more. These paintings collectively could form a lovely painting novel of sorts, as we encounter a brilliant school of characters and their environments, becoming familiar and fond of their quirks and foibles, all expressed through the medium of illustration. For so long, I must confess that visual art had been purely about the dramatics and technique of aesthetics for me; however, Vidya's story paintings have compelled me to much more strongly consider the sheer story-telling element as well.
Our collaboration therefore resulted in us responding to each other's work through our respective modes of expression. This is the first part of our collaboration and Vidya chose to depict a jacaranda tree I had photographed few months ago silhouetted against a rose gold sunset sky, interpreting both the photograph and the text which I wrote to accompany it. I will leave for you to think what you will of this superlative work of hers below; as for me, it simply made me very happy to look at a painting which gorgeously captured in essence both the sky and the jacaranda tree as well as the addition of the dreaming, langurous girl (me?!), which so powerfully marries my words and image.
My image and words
I dreamt of a jacaranda tee last night; it was blooming in a planet galaxies away, in a world where the color of the night was the palest, softest rose-gold. I stood on my tip-toes to touch the velvety mauve blooms but before I could do it, the dream evanescenced and I was left with nothing but the memory of a sky and purple on my finger-tips.
Thank you so so much, Vidya and in the meantime, here's hoping that I will do justice to your lovely paintings!
Watch this space for the second part of our collaboration:)