A creative way of expressing yourself, the bond of an artist with his creations are often intriguing to say the least, bringing to life a new perspective from the lens of the artist. While oil paint on canvas and watercolour on paper, digital art, installations and sculptures are popular, the rise in the number of charcoal artists around the world has captivated me beyond belief. It may not seem as exciting as colour paintings, but who knew a simple monotone painting could have such a drastic visual impact?
Charcoal art is experiencing a resounding resurgence, captivating art enthusiasts worldwide. The rise of this trend can be attributed to its ability to create striking contrasts, atmospheric effects, and expressive strokes. Artists, like Monish Bali, are pushing the boundaries of this versatile medium, fueling a renewed appreciation for its dramatic and emotive qualities. Bali is a self-taught artist whose passion for the wild comes to life on paper.
Born and raised in New Delhi, Monish's connection with the natural world has been a lifelong affair. Monish's artistic journey began in a business-oriented world, with El Garbo as his initial foray into the art scene. While art was part of his school curriculum, it wasn't until the 2020 lockdown that he unearthed his true calling – the realm of charcoal art. The unexpected downtime during the COVID-19 pandemic provided the perfect opportunity for him to explore art more deeply. What started as an experiment with a graphite pencil evolved into a passionate dedication to charcoal as his preferred medium.
Monish's hyper-realistic depictions of wild animals, accurately capture his appreciation for nature's beauty and a meticulous eye for detail. Incorporating art into his life, especially considering his background as a businessman, has been a transformative experience for Monish. "Art serves as a powerful outlet for self-expression, providing balance and enriching both his personal and professional existence. What began as a hobby has organically evolved into a significant and therapeutic aspect of his daily life, offering a unique avenue for relaxation and self-discovery." Today his mission is to give art a larger-than-life, surreal expression.
In his artistic journey, Monish experimented with charcoal and discovered qualities of the medium allowing him to convey the soul and spirit of wild creatures with unparalleled authenticity. Delving into the challenges of using charcoal for art, Monish highlights its value in creating dramatic contrasts and atmospheric effects. The medium's unpredictable nature demands a skilled hand to master its expressive strokes. "Achieving precise details can be demanding due to charcoal's inherent texture and its tendency to create bold, expressive strokes. With a skilled hand, charcoal helps in capturing both emotion and detail by producing different ranges of shade and tone. But, controlling charcoal requires mastering its unpredictability, as even slight pressure can drastically alter the intensity of the strokes."
For Monish, the joy of charcoal art lies in its dramatic and expressive qualities.
At the helm of Monish's work is his approach, drawing viewers into an emotional connection through the eyes of the untamed. As an artist, Monish admires the ability to translate emotions, thoughts, and experiences into visual expressions. The courage to experiment, push boundaries, and innovate continually inspires him. His keen eye for beauty, depth, and meaning in the simplest of things, like animals, transforms them into profound works of art.
His latest collection, Eyes of the Untamed featured at the event in New Delhi's Bikaner House from January 6-8 2024, captured the essence of wildlife. The solo exhibition at Bikaner House showcases Monish's dedication to detail, featuring a diverse range of wildlife, from the lions of the African savannah to the snow leopards of the Himalayas. In his artist statement, Monish articulates his belief that art can bridge the gap between humans and animals, fostering a deeper understanding and empathy for the natural world. "Eyes of the Untamed" is more than an exhibition; it's a tribute to the raw and untamed essence of wildlife." Monish draws inspiration from his deep-rooted fascination with wildlife, seeking to convey emotions through the captivating eyes of animals. "The inspiration for this exhibition stemmed from my deep-rooted fascination with wildlife and my obsession with adding details to the eyes of the animals. Recognizing a certain absence in my paintings, I sought to convey emotions through the captivating eyes of animals. Acrylic emerged as the optimal medium, excelling in capturing the hues and expressions within the eyes of various animals. The depth and versatility of acrylic allowed me to portray the colourful gaze of these creatures, adding a new dimension to my artistic expression," added the artist.
Monish Bali's journey is not just about art; it's a testament to the transformative power of creativity in our lives.