thebigeyedcollagist is the brainchild of graphic designer and scenographer, Sarah Kaushik. Boasting a selective range of collage art, all of her work is predominantly of a certain niche and definitely maintains a common theme throughout. This includes a certain tonality that comes with combining a slight blurriness with a depth that comes from adding a little grain over an otherwise two-dimensional graphic portrait. Sarah further describes her curious and distinctive take on the art of collage-making.
‘I extensively use vintage imagery from India and beyond to create scenarios of the current times. These unexpected compositions address the boundaries between various social, political and cultural stigmas concerning our society, eventually hoping to achieve a tolerance for this complexity and diversity. The vintage finds are like chancing upon a rare gem in a forest - beautiful and priceless, holding stories within themselves, frozen in time and space.’
Even for a collage, Sarah’s canvas combines a varied number of elements that seem to range anywhere between being interconnected to being chosen completely at random. Discussing her creative process, she says, ‘The collage of pictures arise through what I would call an automated process, presenting itself like serendipity, letting the thought and the visual find each other. I, have to be ready to capture the dialogue and create the spectacle. The characters in my work take on lives of their own and I follow them, chancing upon varied topographies allowing diversity of meanings.’
“The collage of pictures arise through what I would call an automated process, presenting itself like serendipity, letting the thought and the visual find each other.”
Adding to the many layers of each piece of art, is an accompanying layer of story-telling. Each composition is another opportunity for the scenographer to indulge in narratives, which for Sarah, act as the basis for every thematic exercise. ‘I began working with digital montages, applying the same knowledge of building narratives, only in a two-dimensional space creating provocative juxtapositions to explore the concepts of Feminism, power, the country and the mysterious in single, yet powerful frames,’ she adds when asked about the extent to which story-telling factors into her work.
Having experimented with many themes, due to the wide array of concepts that have sparked the activisms of thebigeyedcollagist, there are bound to be some recognisable ones. Ones that resonate across most of its landscapes and portraits and deal with the current perceptions built around self-identity and gender conformity. As she further discusses the themes she gravitates towards most of the time, Sarah defines the purpose behind all of her collage-work.
'thebigeyedcollagist is not just a mere stage name, it is an indeterminable identity to contradict the gender biased society, almost a rebellion. My figures are dressed androgynously to transcend any gender expectations and stigmas attached to a specific gender. My work attempts to bridge the distinction between a man and a woman, through the way we dress/look, as a satirical, pun-intended notion of portraying the very sad, abusive state of women, all across the globe. These are the themes I like to work with.'
Breaking tradition. Making Waves by thebigeyedcollagist
Deconstruct your art in a sentence?
Every image reflects the vision of its time and of its maker.
Do you prefer burning the midnight oil or working in the wee hours of the morning?
Whatever it takes to get the answer to my composition.
Three things that influence your art?
My state of mind, music and the daily sagas.
An artist (living or dead) you’d love to have a conversation with?
Your must-have tools of the trade?
My laptop, a printer, a paper knife and some glue.
Any art styles apart from your own, that you’d like to experiment with?
The top 5 things on your bucket-list?
Climb the Pyramid of Giza, sleep under the Northern Lights, celebrate New Years in Times Square, eat Sushi at Jiro’s restaurant in Japan maybe under the Cherry blossoms, live in Mexico.
An art project that you wish you’d been a part of?
Your three greatest idols?
I don't idolise anyone in particular.
But appreciate the craziness of Robert Mapplethorpe and Patti Smith, the zeal of Yayoi Kusama and Murakami’s writing.
Your dream platform for exhibiting your art?
Lastly, any philosophy in work that you’ve always stuck to?
Wanting to end the interview on a positive outlook, I ask Sarah about what the future holds for thebigeyedcollagist -
‘The Big Eyed is going to be travelling for a while in the near future drawing the inspiration from the places s/he visits and experiences and exploring on the meaning of unfulfilled, utopian dreams.’
Text Shristi Singh