By Mudassir Raja
As the music reaches its crescendo so do the brush strokes and before you realise there is a canvas of colours before your eyes. That is Vilas Nayak, an Indian speed artist, for you.
Vilas, renowned worldwide for his speed live painting, is a self-taught artist. He started painting at the age of 3. He quit his lucrative job as a human resources officer in 2011 only to embark on his creative journey.
A finalist of India’s Got Talent season-3 and winner of ‘EC live quotient Most Innovative Act Award’ 2012, the art wizard is currently one of the most sought after speed painting artists in the world. His performances on Asia’s Got Talent on AXN and Got Talent World Stage Live have caught attention of millions across the world. He has so far performed all over India and 30 other countries.
Further, he has performed on some of the most prestigious stages like the UNGA New York, UN headquarters in Geneva, the Singapore President Star Charity show, Asian Achievers Awards in London, NBA half time show for legend Tim Duncan in Texas, NBA half time show for LA Clippers, Heart of Asia conference Amritsar, for the Prime Minister of India and the Japanese PM in Varanasi, for President of India, for Indian Armed Forces, and at International Film Festival of India.
More recently, Vilas was recently in Doha to perform during an art competition organised by The Creative Academy (TCA). Community sat down the virtuoso artist to learn about his achievements and dreams.
Vilas, who started speed painting when he was in college, was academically a brilliant student. “I had a good job but I left it to pursue my passion. I have done over 700 shows in 30 countries in last eight years. It has been an amazing journey, great to live my dream.”
He knew from childhood that there was an artist inside him. “I used to identify myself as an artist more than anything else. Though I was a very good player of badminton and I loved cricket, I always see myself as an artist. Art is something that has stayed with me for the last over 35 years.”
Vilas believes that artists are born. “Honestly, there is no-one in our family or even in my far relatives, who is into art. It has come to me somehow. I believe it is God’s gift. I believe every individual is bestowed with some unique quality. It is up to us to recognise what it is and to understand who you are and what you can do at the best of your ability. Then, you have to develop that capacity. For me, it has been years of practice. If I do not practice for one month and I try to do a live speed painting, I know it is not going to go well. After God’s gift, it is what you do with that gift.”
For Vilas shifting from the corporate world to self-employed work was not easy. He was discouraged by lots of people. “People used to tell me that there were many reality TV show winners who quickly become anonymous. But I was very sure. I was ready to leave everything to gain something that I love. It was easy for me to take the plunge. My parents got convinced with my one bank statement. They realised that I could make good money even by doing a couple of shows.
“What I have seen is that once you follow your passion with utmost determination and hard work, everything comes to you. It is though difficult to be in a system that promotes kids, in case of India, to be doctors. The pressure is so high just only to go into two or three work areas. It is not right. There are many things to be done. The thing is how we move forward to become a society to encourage children to get into the field of their choice and their strength. If you have certain talent for something, you go for it. If you do not have the talent, it can become a terrible mistake.”
The speed artist believes surviving or thriving as an artist is not easy. “Like any other field, the competition is cut-throat. You have to have that visibility. A corporate employee does not need that visibility. I mean once you get a job, you are there. As an artist, you have to have the visibility in the country you are living in and throughout the world so that you get much more work. How you do it that is the question. I think it has become slightly easier today because of the social media. You have more accessibility now. For me, it will not be easier even after 10 years, if I do not improve upon my qualities continuously. I have to keep innovating to survive.”
Vilas is inspired by the legendary and classic artists from Spain, Italy and France. “I compare my works with the classic works. That is when you actually realise where you are. They have set high standards. It will take one lifetime to go closer to their level of mastery. I look at their works and work harder.”
The artist does not like to compare fine art painting and speed painting. “For speed painting, it is probably five minutes work. For fine art work, hours or days are spent on one painting. Many people tell me that speed painting is all gimmicks (laughs). I do not agree with them. First of all, it takes tremendous amount of practice to arrive at this kind of speed, accuracy and colourful art work. Secondly, entire point in doing any act of art is to touch human emotions. I have seen people crying while looking at me doing speed painting. If a five-minute painting can emotionally move people, I think there is nothing like that. I love that thing.”
Vilas agrees that a speed painter may not be able to create a timeless piece of art. “I have thought about this point. One thing is a timeless piece of art. The other thing is the way it is created. What is more important here (speed painting) is the way it is created. The entire process of creation is more important here. What I am trying to do is to make the process enjoyable. I try to bring it closer to the audience. It has been a way for me to connect with people. I also do it for charity work that too gives me pleasure.”
The Indian artist appreciates the art scene of Doha. “I have not seen much of Qatar but I have read a lot about the country and its love for art. The newly-built museum is very artistically designed. It speaks volumes about the vision of the government. They are trying to take art to the masses.”
He sees there is much more to be done for further promotion of art in India. “Actually India has been supporting art in every form. The problem is that we in the East are looking towards the West. We have so much in our own countries to look at. We need to do more PR work. I think the young artists in the East should highlight the beautiful things in their own countries. The artists should be cultural ambassadors of their countries. I have the plan to do a series of artwork showcasing different aspects of my country.
“I would love to be remembered as an artist who followed his dreams and someone who encouraged children to follow their dreams.”
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