23 October, 2016 – The Hindu
In the northern suburb of Borivali, a rare patch of greenery provides the backdrop to artist Shreyas Karle’s residence, personal practice and CONA, a residency and pedagogical centre that he runs along with his wife, artist Hemali Bhuta (who also works from the same space).
If this seems crowded, Karle tells us the last time he worked alone was before he went to M.S. University, Baroda, for his Masters.
Known for his oddball representations of the ordinary, 35-year-old Karle has never been a fan of the detached nature of studio practice, which he believes is a frequent suggestion given to young artists, so they may look at art in a more transcendental way. “After giving this yogic-penance-art-soul-liberating moment a shot, it dawned upon me that the visual language work is the exact opposite of what I was forcing myself to do,” he says. He realised that his work, which focusses on exploring the trivial and everyday, would need more interactions than what solitary practice would provide.
This worked entirely too well for Karle, whose decision to set up an ‘open plan’ practice was partially predicated on Mumbai’s temperamental rent hikes.
Before establishing CONA, Karle and Bhuta and a few fellow artists, illustrators, designers and filmmakers rented a studio space together.
For Karle, this began the blurring of lines between individual studio space and collective working area, a situation in which hispractice thrives. He explains, “There is a thin line betweenprivate and public. Our individual practices, though having different visual outputs, spring from a mutual understanding of visual language and its necessity to evolve as a collective trajectory.”
The resulting work also becomes a critique of the visual language and its relation to the present. With the addition of CONA to their lives, where they not only provide residency but also mentor young artists from varied backgrounds, Karle’s studio is more classroom and college canteen adda, where ideas are discussed, and information, shared.
“There is a realisation that one’s work is not an individual treasure, but rather a contribution of the process to the larger definition of the language.”