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It is in the fragments, that mosaic artist Vandeepp Kalra sees the whole. Piece by piece, chip by chip, a creation unfolds in her hands. The glass shards are all different, and in Vandeepp's art, they find their purpose, translating into synchronized and colourful works of exquisite beauty.
A Self-Taught Artist
Vandeepp has always been interested in art. “I grew up in Lucknow, and as a child, I would avidly read art and craft books,” says Vandeepp. “I have painted for most of my life and experimented with various mediums and forms.” However, Vandeepp didn’t pursue a career in art, and instead, entered the corporate world.
(Beautiful Buddha created using a combination of acrylic and mosaic)
Just before she got married, she came across the world of mosaic art and started experimenting with the art form, creating her first mosaic artworks from old, broken china. Post her marriage, she started travelling the world with her husband, a merchant navy officer. “During my travels, I was able to acquire a lot of specialized tools and materials required for mosaic art, that aren’t available in India,” says Vandeepp. “I learnt through plain trial and error, and from books by my favorite mosaic artists, like Sonia King.”
(Midnight Beauty - a horse created using colourful mosaic tiles)
After her son was born, she stopped travelling as much, but her husband continued to fuel her interest and bought her art supplies from all over the world. Vandeepp has been pursuing mosaic art as a full-time profession for over six years and has become one of the most prominent faces of the art form in India.
The Art of Mosaic
A mosaic artwork can take anywhere between a few weeks to a few months to complete, depending on the scale and intricacy. “It is a very detailed process that requires you to have sound knowledge about the substrate, tesserae and other materials used to create mosaic,” says Vandeepp. “With continued practice, you develop an instinct around how the various materials react with each other.”
Vandeepp combines tiles from Italy, Netherlands, the UK and India to create her artworks, that are radiant with colour or subtle with brimming emotion. With painstakingly cut and deliberately placed pieces of glass, she creates fluid dancers, vivacious rock stars and dramatic floral patterns on her canvas. Her intricately designed creations are reminiscent of the colourful play of light in a kaleidoscope, having movement and a sense of being alive.
(Mosaic Portrait of the famous rock artist, Jimi Hendrix)
Vandeepp has taken mosaic beyond the canvas and applied it to a variety of art forms, such as clocks, mirrors, furniture, sculpture and objets d’art. There are clocks that will transport you to the mosaic covered streets of Europe and peacocks embracing mirrors with their feathers.
She also undertakes commissioned work to personalize a client’s request and create a piece unique to their experience, making precious moments come to life in the most magical way.
(Vandeepp created an extraordinary mosaic replica of a photograph featuring herself and her son)
Mosaic as a Form of Artistic Expression
“Nowadays, I have started using mosaic art to express what is within me,” says Vandeepp. “I have recently created a pure art piece that revolves around street children, because their plight is something I feel very strongly about.” The piece is darker than Vandeepp’s usual work, and a piece of art she wants people to ponder on.
(The Street - Crossroads)
However, Vandeepp rues the fact that mosaic art is still not widely accepted by Indian art galleries to be displayed as an art form. She spends much of her time reaching out to people and enlightening them about the beauty of mosaic. “Mosaic art is so long lasting and easy to maintain,” says Vandeepp. “It is water resistant, and the polish ensures dirt doesn’t stick to it. You can clean it by simply wiping it with a damp cloth.”
(Vandeepp makes vases, sculptures and more using mosaic)
Ever the spirited artist, Vandeepp refuses to be complacent about her artwork, always haunting mosaic shops and perusing award-winning mosaics for inspiration. “I just want to follow the path that my creativity leads me on,” says Vandeepp. “There is no limit to mosaic art, it can take you anywhere.”
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