Jas Charanjiva is a prolific graphic artiste based out of Mumbai. She has had her work published in magazines and independently all over the world. Now as one of the owners of India’s premium artiste-friendly lifestyle product company – Kulture Shop – she intends to put India on the global street-art map. StageCulture was fortunate to get an account of her life as an artiste, and about what drives her.
What sparked off your interest in art?
“I got my first pro skateboard at the age of 12. It had really cool deck art. My favourite skater magazine, Thrasher featured provocative underground artistes, with a rebellious streak. They were my introduction to the world of underground art. Much of my interest in design and art style drew inspiration from it.
Also living near San Francisco, I’d see street art ranging from basic tagging to expansive Mexican murals. Pieces of art in narrow alleys. Things done without permission, when no one was looking – that excited me. I was always a bit of a rebel, I suppose. I liked that this was art too. With no commercial aspect to it. It was there just for the love of it.”
What got you started?
“I was 23. An independent record store used to let artists paint the window displays with album covers every few weeks. One Sunday, I saw people from the ‘Church of John Coltrane’ on the street outside. I wished that I could paint something that could get some kind of a message across to them. I’ve always been all about change. Painting an album cover didn’t mean anything anymore. That was my turning point. I shifted to New York. Created a huge mural of Erykah Badu’s side profile, and wrote, ‘When will there be peace?’ under her chin. Left it for the next tenant of the building. This was me, trying to affect change through art.”
And then you moved to India?
“Yes! I opened up a studio in Hyderabad, and started painting murals. Within 3 years my husband and I decided to move to Mumbai.”
What was it like to integrate within the artistic community of a new city?
“Amazing! The very first day things started rolling. I noticed there was a public wall I could paint. Went back with my own supplies. The manager of the gallery nearby let me know that the owner had instructed her to give me my own 6ft by 8ft canvas to paint on. They shot footage of the progress. I posted some pictures on Facebook, and instantly got a call from a national paper who wanted to do a story on the painting – which I’d decided was going to be on the Taliban. In Mumbai things just started happening.”
Working in Mumbai…
“I started doing murals here for businesses and homes. Didn’t mind not getting paid as long as it is my kind of work. I need complete freedom to paint whatever I want without having to worry about a client and their likes. I otherwise start to freeze and get impotent creatively.
I teamed up with underground arts festival, Art Conspiracy. They had me do a lecture on street art all around the world. They also gave me this 800 sq foot empty space. All raw cement and concrete. For ten nights, I’d go in there and paint till 2 am. I met so many creative people. After ten nights we opened it up as a proper show. The same space was made into a gallery after a month.”
Let’s talk Bowie.
“My biggest inspiration has always been Bowie. Have been listening to him since I was 6 years old. Named my studio ‘Life on Mars’. That song really resonates with me.
Bowie’s death came as a huge shock. I spent the night putting up posters inspired by him and his work all over the city. It was a very therapeutic for me, and proved how cathartic art can be.
Did an entire show on him, his work & life in the month of January 2011. Each of my pieces were named after a Bowie song.”
You want to #GetMore of?
“We have fantastic, edgy, experimental artistes in India, who are doing their own thing. We need to shine a light on the good ones – something we at Kulture Shop are trying to do. Artists need to get more freedom to do the work they want, they need to get more support from the government and other artistes.”
Source for all Images: Facebook