Emerging artists speak about their inspiration and first encounters with art

Revel in this two-part series which features artists such as Bhairavi Modi, Namit Khanna, Dushyant Pandey, Eeshan Kashyap, and more.

Harper's Bazaar India

Bazaar India invited some of the country’s most exciting, emerging Indian artists to showcase their work through a special commission for ‘The Art Issue’.

Stay Here, O Soul..., 
a poem for Bazaar India, November 2022

O Soul, where are you?
Why is it that I can’t see you sometimes?
Where do you hide?
Where are you lost?
I miss your presence.
O soul, please don’t fade away.
Soul is the essence of life,
The life of the soul is you.
Don’t hurt the soul,
Don’t neglect the soul,
The soul is oh so soft.
Built of blood and bones,
The soul resides in each cell.
Don’t hurt it.
When the smoke of the cigarette
Enters the soul through your nostrils
And inhabits your body,
The soul is tarnished.
The soul is adulterated,
The seeds of poison are planted in it.
The life of soul is lost.

Don’t you all look for the soul?
The life loses its soul,
Are you blinded?
Soulless shadows mingle
Around us...
A little girl whose deepest soul
Is purest,
Is raped by these dark shadows.
The army of these soulless creatures,
They are busy killing
These beautiful souls.
The soul cannot bear it,
Thus it hides.
O soul, pray don’t lurk
In darkness.
We need to feel your beats.
We need you in every moment...
Please free the dirty depths of human existence
By re-entering their bodies.
Please don’t leave us,
Please stay.
Please stay, within us,
Among us.
O soul, please stay

Sunanda Khajuria 

Cloud Journey, Acrylic on Canvas

"Clouds are always in motion—shifting shape as they carry on. Similarly, a person’s thoughts, aspirations, and goals alter through the course of their life. This artwork is a depiction of migration, relocation, and new possibilities. It’s inspired by my fascination with people as well as my own experiences of moving around.

My earliest memories of art take me back to my birthplace Jammu, and its rich Dogra culture. I have grown up visiting the Dogra Art Museum, which houses an exceptional collection of miniature paintings, sculptures, artefacts, costumes, and jewellery. The Basohli miniature paintings, in particular, have inspired my creations. 

Nature, human emotions, and relationships stimulate my creativity, inspiring me to become more introspective—each a catalyst for ingenious endeavours. Art is the mirror of society, facilitating cultural exchange, education, and expression. In today’s tumultuous world, it possesses the power to make you feel alive."

Dushyant Pandey 

Story Recreated - III, Oil on Canvas

"This piece talks about a folktale of the fox and the crow, exhibiting a role reversal—a shift in the power dynamics of the world order, symbolised through the power play between the characters.

My preferred style of creative expression began in my first year at art school, while browsing through a book about Spanish artist, Salvador Dalí. Our professor had taught us about Surrealism—a 20th-century, avant-garde movement in art and literature, which sought to release the creative potential of the unconscious mind—through the works of Dalí deeply influenced me.

Today, mythologies, folklore, and oral histories, as well as the mundane objects one witnesses on the streets of India spark creativity within me. Art is potent enough to move you in ways nothing else can, making it significant for years to come."

Dr Suresh Sheth

Colourful Houses, Collage on Paper

"This collage demonstrates the traffic of modern times; the speed and movement in metropolitan cities that exist today. Along the houses runs a railway line, transiting through nature’s glory.

Renowned French Modern artist, Henri Matisse, has greatly inspired my works. To add a dash of novelty to my collages, I have incorporated the use of buttons, and have employed special scissors for additional texture. My love for bright colours is also clearly translated through my pieces. 

Growing up, art, for me, was my sister’s rangoli designs. I’d steal her colours and create my own masterpieces. Shortly after, I commenced classes under the guidance of Indian painter and teacher, Somalal Shah. Hailing from the Saurashtra region of Gujarat, the roaring seas along the Gulf of Kutch deeply influenced me. In today’s digital age, as well, art remains significant. And corporate houses, too, encourage art activities to creatively stimulate their employees. When seeking respite from your fast-paced life, turn to art.”

Eeshan Kashyap 

The Modern Matka, Resin

“This matka is a contemporary interpretation of a traditional Indian form. The addition of the square to its base has eliminated the need for a circular rope ring. By incorporating the square base with a circular vessel on top, a new form has been created. 

As I scribbled along the walls at home, back in my younger days, I knew a creative spark lay deep within. Colours, forms, shapes—and my fixation with dots and geometry—inspire me to create objects that represent my inner thoughts and feelings. Art has eased the complications of life by offering a powerful outlet for self-expression. It is a space that is open to everyone. It’s a reflection of the current times, not just socially or politically, but emotionally. Today, I live life in colour, and express myself via multiple forms of art.” 

Bhairavi Modi

Many, Many Happy Returns of the Day, Oil on Canvas

“This artwork is a celebration of love, laughter, and friendship. As I strolled about in a garden, I caught a jolly group of college students celebrating a birthday—surrounded by mischievous monkeys—with one of them capturing this special moment on their smartphone. I saw, I sketched.

My initial introduction to art goes back decades. At the age of 12, my father, an architect, insisted that I attend a workshop—propelling me into this magical world. Today, art is a way of life. Art has helped me master patience. It has taught me that when the mind is clouded, you must retreat, refresh, and get back with a clearer perspective. 

For any civilisation, region, or country, art is identity. You can find art in architecture, music, dance, and drama; it helps bring order to the chaos.”

Megha Joshi

The Red Series XIII, Cotton Wicks and Watercolour on Paper

“This work of art depicts the intersection of gender, ritual, and religion. The modern Goddess, seated in a defiant pose, dares you to define her. The artwork employs cotton wicks, soaked in vermillion—representative of feminine energy.

My earliest memory of art takes me back to my childhood; moulding aata [dough] with my feeble hands, learning the power of manipulating materials. Ever since, there has been an innate need to create; a raging fire within me to express myself. And life, in all its wonderful and ugly manifestations, has been the inspiration behind my art.

That said, creating is often as agonising as it is thrilling; it impedes other roles, but remains my primary identity. Art possesses the remarkable power to offer an insight into the times, away from mainstream thought. In this era, where technology reigns supreme, art is vital—lending a sense of belonging, or perhaps, resistance.”

Namit Khanna

Balena, Cast Aluminium

“For Bazaar India’s ‘The Art Issue’, I have curated a more realistic and raw version of Nama Home’s ‘Balena Table’.

Drawing inspiration from the expansive ocean, the fin of the table is designed to be flat—and wide enough—to hold books, vases, and sculptures, as well as cocktail glasses and coffee mugs. The base, when compared to the original, has a more pointed vertebra, with a textured gold finish.

As a child, I found myself intrigued by my aunt’s canvas paintings, often modifying them, which drove me to discover my love for the arts. It is the inherent balance in nature that inspires my designs.

The various mediums of art have taught me that each being is unique in their own way—compelling me to accept and respect people from different schools of thought. In times of disarray and disorder, I seek solace in art; it makes life beautiful.”