This article originally featured in the April 2021 issue of Connect.
Shikhambri Avasthi (Ōsaka) interviewed by Jessica Craven (Saitama)
This month’s featured artist has allowed her passion to carry her life down a bit more of an unconventional path! After her son was born a few years ago, Shikhambri Avasthi left her full-time corporate job, moved to Japan, and is living her dream of being an artist. She is already having a fair amount of commercial suc-cess, and she has also become a member of Women Artists Born Global Network (WABGNET), an organization with the mission to help empower women artists globally.
Rigulio Graak, the Founder of WABGNET, describes her work rather poetically: “Watching Shikhambri paint the sea makes me think of the two Oceans, (the) Indian Ocean and (the) Pacific Ocean mixing. There is something hypnotic in the movement and flow—true passion. Everyth-ing else is stripped to minimal; only the canvas and the painting mediums stay.
Certainly you can see the influences of both India and Japan in her color palette, linework, and references to natural elements. It’s as if both countries merge together as one in her artwork like two waves crashing against and eventually flowing into each other. Read on to see her describe how she arrived at this point in her own words.
J: Where are you from, how long have you been in Japan, and what made you decide to come here?
S: I am from New Delhi, India and I came to Japan in 2018 with my husband and now 2-year-old son. I was working as a Human Resource Manager with a lifestyle retail chain in India. In July of 2018, my son was born and at the same time my husband got an opportunity to work as an IT consultant for Universal Studios Japan. We took a leap of faith and moved to this beautiful country that is full of opportunities and a rich culture.
J: Tell us about your artwork.
S: I am an abstract artist and work in mixed media. I love building up from thin to thick paint, starting with drips and splashes of paint. This process helps me understand my intentions and build up my mood or thoughts.
This style and medium syncs well with my own personal motto of “being in the moment and going with the flow in life.” While painting, I start with limited planning, allowing the painting to naturally take shape. My approach is to revel in the unknown. Painting in the moment, each brushstroke defines the next. That’s how I like to live my life, being fully alive for each and every moment. My painting process is full of curiosities rather than fears . . . I nurture it with the belief that it is going to be a remarkable piece that can connect and speak to its viewers.
Though spontaneous, I think I look for rich texture, natural vibrancy, and depth. I love painting layer over layer, creating depth, and want my viewers to look up close and look for their own stories inside the painting.
J: Where do you look for inspiration?
S: My artwork is majorly inspired by the depths of the sea, the fluidity of its waves, and the beauty of flowers around me. These are some special symbols that are very close to my heart. They inspire me to be bold, to be free, and to be purposeful.
There are some other things which I am sure are a source of inspiration to many artists like me—a good podcast, my favorite music, the sunset and sunrise . . . traveling with family, watching my son grow . . . sitting by the lake, walking on the beach, sitting quietly and pausing for a moment. These help get my creative juices flowing.
J: Do you have a “formal” art education, or how did you learn how to paint?
S: I always found myself painting since my childhood. I received my initial understanding of colors, pencils, and strokes from my mom and dad. They thoroughly encouraged me to draw and paint whatever and however I wanted to. I participated in many art competitions during my school years under the guidance of my parents. Winning an art award in school was such a big and positive motivation. I remember having a 24-colored pencil set back then when specific art supplies were not so easily available in my town, and my dad asked his friend in the US who was coming for a holiday to India to bring a 36-colored pencil set.
While art was always running through my blood, as I grew up I explored various art lessons and techniques through watching YouTube, buying art lessons provided by experts on Udemy, and learning from seasoned artists.
Finally, during my maternity leave, I had enough time on my hands and I dedicated it all to painting. I was painting everything from portraits to landscapes, using pencil, charcoal, oil, acrylic, and so on.
Soon I realized the need to identify my own
unique art style and inner voice, and I was so fortunate to sign up for a year-long Mastery program with Milan Art Institute in the U.S.
They really help me understand my inner calling, temperament, and personality. That’s how I discovered that I love painting abstracts the most. Abstract art comes so naturally to me, making my art look effortless, and it is meaningful to me.
J: How has being in Japan influenced or changed your art or yourself? (Also, how has your color palette changed since coming here?)
S: I am extremely touched by the vibrant colors and scenic beauty in Japan. Nature in every season in Japan brings about inspiring beauty. Whenever I see a beautiful flower, waterfall, or mountain during my travels, I capture it on my camera.
In addition, I have experienced a smooth transition of all four seasons in Japan that deeply inspired me to be mindful of color stories, color transitions, and gentle shifts on the canvas.
J: Have you ever exhibited artwork in Japan or abroad? (If so, where?)
S: Yes, I have participated in various group and solo art exhibitions, both virtual and onsite. I am always seeking new opportunities to meet new people and to keep myself surrounded by art in any way.
Here is an overview of my exhibitions so far in Japan:
Solo Art Show at YOLO Base, Ōsaka
April 4-14, 2020
Group Art Exhibition in ART & Selection Gallery, Nakazaki, Ōsaka
June 1-30, 2020
Solo Art Show in Lingua world café, Ōsaka
January 8, 2021
NEXT group art exhibition at Igu_mzart gallery, Ōsaka (My painting “Singing Joy” won the People’s Choice award in this exhibition.)
February 12, 2021
Virtual Art Exhibition with WABGNET, an organization that aims at empowering women.
I am a registered artist with a renowned rental art company, Casie, in Japan. Around 20 of my paintings are distributed by Casie. A few of them have already been sold and the rest are displayed as rental property at various locations across Japan.
Along with this, I have done quite a few pieces for friends or as commissions through customers both in Japan and abroad. I love recording someone’s dreams, stories, and thoughts onto the canvas. I also believe that original art can be owned by anyone who wants it at an affordable price, especially in the current era.
My next art exhibition is a group exhibition in Hyōgo Prefectural Museum of Art in July.
J: Is there anything else you want people to know?
S: Yes, I have a message: I feel it’s really important to discover the purpose of your life . . . the bigger objective . . . something that always keeps you curious and hopeful. Art gives me true happiness, and so all of my free time is dedicated to art and creative living. Being in Japan has proved to be icing on the cake, as I love its beauty, warmth, and culture. A part of Japan will always stay alive in my art no matter where I head next.
You can find my art and connect with me on my Instagram page @Shikhambri.
Cover image: “Wave”
Shikhambri Avasti is an abstract artist from India living in Japan. After the birth of her son in 2018, she left her full-time corporate job and decided to pursue her dream of being an artist. Though her work is minimal and spontaneous, it is rich in texture and exudes natural vibrancy and depth. Her other hobbies include underwater diving, and she finds a lot of her inspiration in the sea. You can see more of her art on her Instagram page here.
Jessica is a fourth-year American JET from Arkansas state now living in Saitama. She is the art section editor for CONNECT. On weekends she enjoys hiking in remote areas of Saitama or taking day-trips to Tōkyō. When not adventuring, she can be found reading or creating her own artwork, which can be seen on her Instagram @jessica_craven_art.