Voice of Equality

by Nikheel Aphale
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Size: 40 x 28 inches
Medium: India Ink and Watercolours on Paper
Year: 2022
Signature: Centre Right


This artwork is part of the "Varnamala" series by Nikheel Aphale, who considers the Devanagari script to be his muse. Varnamala means "alphabet". Devanagari is an ancient Indian script in which Sanskrit, Hindi, Nepali, Marathi and some other languages are written. Nikheel draws parallels between the constitution of letters and human beings, through the lens of diversity, co-existence and togetherness. His artworks, inspired by and rooted in the beautiful Devanagari script, celebrate the ideals of unity, diversity, humanity and oneness, using letters as a metaphor. For instance, the Devanagari script allows one to write exactly how a word is spoken, reflecting honesty and purity of expression - values much appreciated in human beings. There is also no concept of upper case and lower case letters in the script. All letters are at the same level - no hierarchy, no discrimination in terms of position - perhaps an ideal to strive towards in human society too?

"Voice of Equality" highlights the fact that there are no silent letters in the Devanagari script. Each letter has a unique and distinguished sound, which can be heard irrespective of the letter's size, look, feel and tone. Much like this, all humans should also have an equal voice, irrespective of their gender, caste, religion, financial status etc.

  • ABOUT Nikheel Aphale

    Letters not only speak to, but entice calligraphy artist Nikheel Aphale, who believes in taking calligraphy beyond its conventional definition of “the art of beautiful handwriting.” Nikheel uses his own letters – akshars – as a means of expression. Using calligraphy, he creates art that is imperfect yet beautiful, with the texture of ink, the spaces, the overlapping letterforms and mingling strokes making his artworks a truly visual experience.

    The Devanagari script is Nikheel’s muse; he adores its traditional and spiritual roots, and being the script of his mother tongue, Marathi, he feels deeply connected to it.

    Born in 1979 in Mumbai, Maharashtra, Nikheel Aphale’s fascination with letters began right from childhood. By the time he was in college, the fascination grew into a passion for creating art out of letters. Nikheel graduated with a Bachelor’s in Applied Arts from L.S. Raheja School of Art, Mumbai, followed by a Post-Graduate Diploma in Communication Design from the National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad.

    Nikheel Aphale has participated in group shows in India as well as abroad and conducted workshops in esteemed Indian institutes like Ashoka University, Banaras Hindu University, MICA and NIFT. He has also been a speaker at a TEDx event. Nikheel was invited to showcase his work at The World Calligraphy Biennale, Jeollabuk, South Korea, in 2015, 2017 and 2019. His works were also published in juried issues of the Letter Arts Review, an esteemed international calligraphy magazine, in 2010, 2011 and 2016. Nikheel lives and works in Bangalore.

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