‘It was my father’s ending but my beginning’

WHO Gujarat-born Nai got his Diploma in Drawing and Painting from the LS Raheja School of Art, Mumbai. His work focusses on jute, including it in different ways in different creations. He has exhibited at Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Mumbai, National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai, Beppu Museum, Japan, and has been awarded the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Award 2004-05, New York.

Manish Nai
Manish Nai 32, Artist Photo Courtesy: Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke

What is the one incident that changed or formed your artistic vision?
There is one very important incident actually. This happened when I was already at the LS Raheja School of Art. My father’s jute business suffered a lot of losses. Somehow that triggered an inspiration. Since then jute has been my primary medium and canvas. I paint with the material, and colours inspired from it. It was my father’s ending but my beginning.
Is that why your colour palette is largely restricted to earth tones?
I do use colours to work around with jute. However, I don’t deliberately start out with them. In the beginning, there are a lot of colours on my palette. I play around with them and slowly the shades I want to use emerge.
What is the one thought or memory or feeling that you have never been able to translate into art but wish you could?
Every time I paint, I feel that something is incomplete. I can never translate my vision completely onto the canvas. Canvas also takes me in unexpected direction many times. I keep my mind open to all and any surprises and I allow myself to believe them.
What’s been your greatest moment of fear or exhilaration?
My son was hospitalised for a whole month from the day he was born. That was a time of great fear for me.
Jute stories Untitled by Manish Nai
Jute stories: Untitled by Manish Nai

Biggest influence/mentor?
My biggest influence and mentor is Girish Shahane, a writer and art critic from Mumbai. He is a big name in the art circle. He was one of the advisers at The Škoda Prize 2011.
What are the two fundamental values you wouldn’t give up for anything?
There are no two specific values. I do not wish to change my nature. It has a strong connection with my work. I believe that if you stay the way you are any change that has to happen will come.
Aradhna Wal is a Trainee, Features with Tehelka.