Thinker, Teacher, Photographer, Painter, Seeker.
Joel Suganth is the artist in its truest form. As a invisible observer, his mind doesn’t just see images, it sees the flow of life, the flow of energy which he captures in his work. This Chennai based artist talks about his work and his upcoming exhibition with us.
Q. How did you discover art? Or maybe I should ask, how did it discover you?
A. Art found me.
I have always been surrounded by beautiful things , and I never knew that there was something called ` art` until I landed in an art school in a quite unexpected way and I got in to the Painting department, and from then on it has been a wonderful journey of discovery.
Q. What part of the artistic process do you feel is the most difficult?
A. The ability to sustain the intensity of an experience or an Idea.
Q. Many of your pictures are as if seen by a third person, as if from an unseen observing eye. Do you think that you like to see the world as a observer?
A. I recently got a Visa to a country that I am going to visit soon, its stamped ” Temporary Visitor” that describes me, I am like that , I visit, observe, and present.
Q. What inspires you and your work?
A. A lot of things, but to be more specific, Music inspires me more than anything else, and to be more specific, the music of Mozart and some of Ilayaraja’s Compositions . Whenever I listed to them, everything around me turns intensely beautiful.
Q. You’re also involved with teaching children art. How do you feel about art education in India?
A. I work in a school that is very supportive towards the arts, and I witness the wonderful things it does to the Kids. I wish I was in a school like that.
Most Indian schools don’t have a strong and meaningful curriculum for visual arts, and its very sad since in India we have so many Indigenous art forms waiting to be learned. I hope the ministry of education realizes that Music and Art is as important to life as Math and Science.
Q. One of your fav pictures, and why?
A. “Mother and Child” because this picture is a very good example of what I like about photography – “The picture taking ritual” you meet someone on the street, and you smile, reach an accord, take a picture, and share it with them. You don’t know their names, what they do, where they come from, but you share a beautiful moment with them.
Q. Do you follow any artists?
A. I follow art everywhere, Most of the artists whose work I follow are my peers in Chennai, Kumaresan, Annesh, Kiran, Gurunathan, Ganesh names that are not so famous, but very interesting work nonetheless. I am also part of a Network of Contemporary artists artnowhere.org
and I keep abreast with work by my fellow artists there.
Q. You have a exhibition coming up, do tell us about it.
A. I have been working on a series of images on the ocean and I will be exhibiting the same. This series of photographs is a meditation on the ocean, the shifting colors, the moods it displays and imaginary line that splits the water from the skies. For almost a year now I have photographed the ocean from the beach at different parts of the day, concentrating on the three layers before me, the sand, the water, and the sky. The horizon line fascinates me; the beach is one of the very few places where one can look as far as the eye can go without buildings, trees, or pretty much anything blocking the view. And the line at the horizon is a delightful destination. I have used an instant film camera, which I felt expresses the uniqueness of each moment felt, the fragility of an instant.
Q. Even today you are working a lot on film, why do you choose to do that even in the era of digital cameras?
I started with films, and I still like the quality of images that film’s produce. it not nostalgic, its just that each medium has its properties and film has its properties that I still like using. And it also serves a very practical purpose, for my Kasi images, I under exposed film and exposed the films multiple times. There is a certain randomness to the whole thing which will be lost should I make “multiple exposure” looking images using an image editing program.
Q. Where do you see your art going to in the future? What are your plans?
A. I don’t know about future. I have a very simple plan, I will make images and will show them. We’ll see what happens.