In Conversation With The Self-Taught Painter And Winner Of National Awards: Sanjay Soni
Sanjay Soni- Artist From New Delhi
We often talk about people endowed with Divine Grace but coming across the work of a blessed painter truly leaves one speechless. Something of this sort happened with me. I was at an exhibition at Ashoka Hotel, New Delhi and my heart skipped a beat. The beautiful paintings displayed there had such a magnetic appeal. I was floating like a wandering soul; caught up between life and death for I was yet to explore divinity on earth. I felt peaceful as a portrait of Lord Krishna beckoned in silence and then serene monks smiled at me. There was a sudden shift in my being as the Buddha in me stirred and I felt him guide me through messages stroked on the canvas in the most mesmerizing way. The vivid themes of the National Award winning painter Sanjay Soni left me awestruck. Once home I was committed to the idea of contacting the painter himself and within a couple of hours I was talking to an extremely humble and gifted human being; Sanjay Soni, a self-taught painter from Delhi.
We are indeed grateful to him for agreeing to do an exclusive interview with the Lifestyle and cultural e-zine Bananivista.
BV: When did you first realize that you painted well? Was it in school or your parents have some memories of little fingers scribbling everywhere?
Sanjay Soni: Since childhood, I had an artistic bent of mind. I was not interested in studies. I would draw and paint most of the time. My parents appreciated my work and encouraged me since the time I was a little boy and my little fingers grew confident with their encouragement and blessings. My friends always praised my drawings so it was also their love that encouraged me to grow.
BV: Introduce yourself to youngsters who want to become artists. Inspire them with the story of your life and share the mantra that keeps you peacefully committed to your goal.
Sanjay Soni: I am a self-taught painter. I have never been to any special institute or to a college of art. I have faced challenges and tough times but my firm belief in God and continuous hard work bore fruits. Everybody is gifted with divine grace; it is just a matter of faith. I pray and meditate. I talk to God about my challenges in my prayers and then I listen to him when I meditate. Daily practice has helped me to become more and more confident about my creative abilities. Stress and creativity never hold hands. As artists, we need to remember that we have to go on, do our work without expectations because expectations bring stress.
Remember that it is commitment that will fetch you the support of your parents. I will suggest that keep your work safely with you and you will notice that year after year one improves. I often show the improvement in my work by comparing the old drawings with the new ones to all the youngsters who seek my guidance.
BV: How do you begin your day? Share your normal routine as an artist.
Sanjay Soni: I rise with the Sun. As I said before, I begin my day with prayers and meditation. Next, by 9 O’ clock in the morning, I pick up my tools to either sketch or paint. Meditation results in focus, concentration and enhanced creativity. I have committed myself to work daily without fail. I take a break for lunch and then I continue with my routine.
BV: Your paintings showcase meditative faces that are calm and serene. What is the secret behind such a lot of peace in your strokes?
Sanjay Soni: Meditation is my open secret because it gives me a peaceful mind. I get the ideas for my themes in meditation. The peace I experience is reflected in my themes and paintings. Our true nature is all about peace, love and happiness and every person craves for the miraculous threesome in life. Meditation has helped me to realize my natural self.
BV: You have received National Awards and a lot of recognition in India and abroad. How different are you now from the time you began to paint as a professional?
Sanjay Soni: I am the same artist and I still put in a lot of hard work. Yes! One thing has definitely changed – my financial problems. Earlier I struggled for finances and at times gave away my paintings for some money that would fulfill my immediate needs.
BV: How do you choose your themes that show case the rich heritage of India in many ways? Be it Krishna or Buddha or the theme of Rajputana, there is a tinge of religious as well as spiritual background in your shading?
Sanjay Soni: I love to explore as well as express the rich culture of India which is simple as it is soaked in spirituality. Rajputana is my favourite. I love the choice of colourful dresses of the people and their way of life despite the natural hardships in the region. The people have a lot of character and traditional zeal and I try to bring all these aspects in my paintings. Recently on my visit to Rajasthan, I met some old people and asked them whether their traditions were being followed by the younger generation. They told me that the youngsters now dressed up differently for trends inspired them more than the grace of culture. I was so touched that I decided to keep their traditional dresses intact through my paintings. My series on Buddha is like a mission because I use the tranquility on Buddha’s face to evoke and inspire people to lead a simple and peaceful life. The smiling monks inspire to be happy and seek knowledge despite the day to day struggles.
BV: Your paintings have the vibrancy of colours as well as the serenity of black and white especially the series that depicts Buddha and the monks. Please explain.
Sanjay Soni: I usually use black and white in the background to depict my themes. While working on the theme of Buddha, I used black and white for depicting the vastness of Buddha who like the universe is the knower of all secrets. He is Buddha, the enlightened one. He is the giver for all those who live in faith and knowledge. The monks in vibrant red are the followers or the ones in search of enlightenment. They are happy with twinkling eyes and a peaceful smile. They are on their path of knowledge.
BV: What do you want to share with the people who love your paintings and buy them to decorate their space?
Sanjay Soni: My paintings are an extension of my character. My paintings always have an element of hope and happiness. I try to share positive vibes through my themes. I don’t want people to buy sadness in any form. The real essence of life has peace, love and happiness as its basic ingredients. I try to capture all the three to inspire people and it feels great when people tell me that after a hectic day they sit in front of my paintings to restore their inner peace.
BV: If you were to thank people in this journey as a creative artist then who would you think of?
Sanjay Soni: My parents gave their unconditional and steadfast support. They believed in me and their positive attitude strengthened me especially when I was struggling to establish myself. My wife is not an artist but she helps me in every possible way. In fact, her commitment towards me is such that she has learnt a lot in order to support me. My wife and children get to see my paintings from scratch and they give valuable inputs. I think I am so lucky to have family members as critics as well as admirers.
BV: Do you have a message for parents of creative children who would love to follow their colourful dreams? Give a message to the readers.
Sanjay Soni: The appreciation from parents is like a blessing. If parents are supportive then children will work with self-confidence. Struggles and challenges are always a part of it but a little appreciation from parents gives a boost to the self-esteem of the child. Parents of young artists need to understand that patience is the key and time is an important factor in determining success and satisfaction in the life of any artist.
On the other hand, the young artists must be peaceful because a tranquil mind gives creative ideas and themes to work upon. Give your hundred percent. Success is like an offshoot of hard work and wholehearted efforts. Thinking about the unknown future gives stress but daily hard work will strengthen the present and give you the results in the future. Remember success and fame will come to you when you are honest and committed to your dreams.
BV: If I say that 2018 is a good time for you. What would you wish for?
Sanjay Soni: I want that peace, love and happiness make their way into homes through my paintings and I will tirelessly work towards this goal.
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