VIKRAM KUSHWAH’s photos reflect a longing for childhood dreams and fantasies, and for a world unsullied by modernity and the mundane; a simpler life, when ‘miracles were taken for granted’, as Vikram puts it. Similarly, through his corpus of work, Vikram strives to ‘challenge reality’ and rebel against the modern world through celebrating the romanticism and innocence of the ‘pure self’ of the child. The poignant symbols and images featured in his surreal and magical photos are a manifestation of this celebration and yearning.
In addition to being inspired by his childhood memories and his notions of romanticism, Vikram’s artistic influences are vast. While through his work one can see a direct link to childhood classics such as Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan, Vikram also cites the works of Sigmund Freud and the photographer Guy Bourdin as having left a profound impression on him. As well, while pursuing his Master’s, he was particularly drawn to the work of the Surrealists, the Romantics, and the Pre-Raphaelites.
‘THE TWINS & THE GREEN CAR’
‘WHAT IF THESE WERE LEGS’
Q & A WITH VIKRAM KUSHWAH
Inklette: The world that you create in your work is an individual, personal space. Yet, do you like to be defined by it or are you simply a part of the whole?
Vikram: I’m certainly a part of the whole as I am in that kind of space – at least in my head—even when I’m not producing work. It follows me. I follow it. So in that sense you could also say that I’m defined by it. Also because, while flipping through a magazine, people tend to recognise or distinguish my work from the rest. It’s some kind of a paradox.
Inklette: At the end of every project, how do you think you change from within?
Vikram: I don’t think I change from within at all. I have and always will be a daydreamer. I have always seen my work as a sort of rebellion against the modern times where violent acts of destruction are commonplace. That will not change. A friend recently wrote this after seeing one of my recent series, “Quite honestly I ‘d rather just look at some beautiful things than think about all the horrific stuff and quality of humans floating around in the universe!” That’s one of the ways I’d like to impact people.
Inklette: You’ve stated that you have been influenced by Surrealism and Romanticism. How do you converge that narrative into your own, as a contemporary photographer?
Vikram: I don’t take Surrealism and Romanticism as necessarily belonging to the art periods of the past. I think they’re states of the mind. Therefore past and contemporary do not apply. I dream of a simpler world, a place without rigid social rules – and that’s where the magic comes in my pictures. My daydreamer self lends itself to the surrealism of my work. Of course, I’ve studied the historical art periods and have taken inspiration from those as well.
Inklette: So, you teach high school students photography in the summer through the OxBridge Academic Programs. What do you hope they take away as artists and people?
Vikram: I hope they take away photography as an art form and not merely as a technical medium because art enables people, it elates and it excites – and more so with young minds. I hope they can be dreamers at some level.
Inklette: The elements in your work are characterized by a mix of wondrous synchronization and a gnawing sense of dream-like disintegration. Where does the origin of such inspiration lie, according to you?
Vikram: The inspiration at the very core, at the very heart is triggered by the imagination. With an imagination, anything can become inspirational, even the everyday and the seemingly mundane. The imagination helps perceive things differently and then conceive an idea. It’s the same with me—anything I see, hear, taste, smell can inspire or trigger an idea but it’s the imagination (read: daydreaming) that really helps construct it.
Inklette: In your work, there is a striking dimension where each event takes place in an unconscious space. Surprisingly, in your photographs, that dimension is more perceivable and tangible than distant. How would you explain this or how do you manage to do this?
Vikram: I can only think of one explanation. What you see in my pictures is what really happens when I press the button.
In 2010, VIKRAM KUSHWAH completed his masters in photography at University for the Creative Arts, Rochester. He has since been practicing his art in Britain and India, working for reputed publications such as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar and showing his work in galleries in the UK, Europe and the USA. His collector base spans Europe, America and Asia. Vogue Italia featured him in their ‘New Talents’ section in 2012. The following year his work won a bronze at Cannes for an advertising campaign shot for a Singapore based agency.He currently lives in London. You can visit his website here.