Visual artist Santanu Hazarika talks about his first physical art exhibition, BLCK

Artist Santanu Hazarika’s work has captured the attention of the virtual world. The artist, known for his crypto art and collaborating with artists like Ritviz and Divine to create NFT art, is now showcasing his physical work at Mumbai-based gallery Art & Soul. Santanu, who has made a name for himself in the field of fine art for his evocative and thought-provoking creations, presents monochromatic works entitled BLCK in this gallery. The show can also be viewed online for those unable to visit the art space.

For someone known as an artist, it’s surprising that this is his first physical show. But then the winner of the world’s first Red Bull World Doodle Art Champion in 2014 presents some great works that may have taken a while to create. In an interview with Indulge, he talks about the show, the NFT world and what he’s working on next. Excerpts:

What is the idea behind BLCK?
The inspiration for this show comes from the color black because I’ve always painted and drawn with that color. I have participated in many group exhibitions in India and other countries, but I always wanted to do a conventional physical exhibition in a gallery. The pandemic has given me the time and opportunity to do so. I returned to the sketches I made during my engineering days, the most tumultuous period of my life. I started processing these sketches and recreating them as large canvases. When I had to give the exhibition a title, I realized that I had always used the color black and that this was a common thread that connected my past and present. I’ve evolved now and I’m not the same person or artist today, so the title BLCK without the A represents me. Although the pronunciation is the same, the word BLCK without the letter a means something different.

What should the audience take away from this?
I want people to take away an experience, I want them to have a glimpse into my world, into my process and into my existence. I want them to marvel and think about my artwork even after they have left the gallery. You will see something new every time you see my work. While my work may disturb and upset you, I want to instill a sense of awe and comfort at the same time.

You’ve coined many of your artworks as NFTs… what are your plans on that front?
I have minted NFTs on platforms such as OpenSea, Foundation and WazirX. I am thinking of my next project where I will create a series of artworks and I will mint with a better roadmap in mind and physical utility associated with the artwork. But for now I’m taking a break.

How difficult is it for Indian artists to get the recognition they deserve in the crypto art world? What’s holding us back?
It is not very difficult for Indian artists to gain recognition, there are many recognized artists like Vimal Chandran and Prasad Bhat doing amazing work in the crypto art world. But it’s also a bit difficult because we don’t have enough artists from India in the global NFT art community and there are very few Indian collectors and buyers. Aside from very few indigenous projects taking place, these are the factors that make us lag behind.

As an artist, how do you think the physical art market is impacted by the crypto world?
I’m comfortable with both physical art and NFTs, I work in both mediums. It’s an exciting time, it’s an interesting intersection between the physical and virtual art worlds. Everyone is creative and cautious about how they carry out a virtual piece of physical work. It’s a hot topic and everyone wants to get involved and invest in it. The physical art market has been affected, but many galleries are converting physical art into NFTs and vice versa.

The show BLCK can be seen online until February 28th

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