Shivanand Shagoti was born and brought up in a small village of Gadag District in Shirahatti Taluk, Chikkasavanur Village. He, who grew up in a family of farmers and businessmen, found his interest flourishing in painting. In fact, he recalls all the instances when he was rebuked by his family for his passion. Instead of pulling him back, Shivanand was motivated to go down the risky road and fulfill his dream. Finally in 2022, he was bestowed with one of the prestigious art awards.
We congratulate Shivanand Shagoti for the receipt of his National Award through this story crafted with the help of his beautifully sewn responses. In conversation with the Artist himself –
The Journey So Far
“Back in school, I started full-fledged painting under the aegis of my Hindi teacher Shri B M Yarakad sir who was also our drawing teacher. Once during the Hindi period, bored and unfocused, I started making an imagined portrait for which I was scolded by him. However, upon showing him the portrait, he was startled and suggested that if I was bored, I could go out and continue my visual creations. His belief and his acceptance of my talent was the reason why my passion took shape today.
Fast forward to tenth standard, I failed that class in three subjects. I was petrified about my parents’ reaction, so I ran away to Bangalore without informing them. I began working as a sign board artist at SriDevi Arts in Bangalore where I was assisting people to do sign boards. Six months into it, I realized that I was not in the right place and wanted to return to my hometown. However, due to the lack of funds, it became difficult to journey back. Somehow, I returned home and was scolded badly.
Since my father had no faith in me, he suggested I enroll myself to learn photography to set up a studio for wedding photography due to the lack of one in our village. He then took me to Lakkundi to learn photography. While learning photography, I got attracted to fine arts, started studying for my 10th there whilst simultaneously doing wedding and event photography. After successfully passing my 10th, I requested my brother-in-law Ramesh Alur, who was the owner of Shiva Photo Studio, to send me to Bangalore to study videography, but he did not buy my idea since I ran away previously. After several pleas, he finally trusted me and let me go to learn videography.
Here comes the twist: the plan was not to study videography but fine arts. I packed all my high school documents as well as stole five thousand yet again without informing my family. With that money, I enrolled myself in the Chamarajendra Academy of Visual Arts (CAVA) in Mysore with the help of my friend Satish Badiger. In the middle of the year, I came home during the two months holiday to the same old scolding. I confessed my love for fine arts but for my father it was synonymous to becoming a sign board artist. However, I continued to follow my passion despite every possible odds.
Later on, when I returned to my art school, I thought about what I wanted to do in the future. Definitely, I decided to stay back as well as wanted to eliminate the familial problems around my career. So, I called my family and decided to part ways with them. I have not met them since then but have found family like friends in Madan, Vasu Dixit, Shivraj, and Nagaraj since we used to stay at our friend Vijayraj Ullagad room (our adda). My senior Madan Gowda even pledged his gold chain to pay for my college fees since I was not allowed to give exams until I paid my college fees. And finally, without a doubt, nothing would have ever been possible without the support of my wife Shobha, my daughter, Yogish BK, and my friends.
With minimal moral and financial support from my family, I have even spent days without food and survived on water. As someone who was at the brink of losing everything, I started selling lottery tickets, sold brand new soaps, wrote sign boards, and did commercial artwork to source my food and sponsor my education. I recall collecting a rupee from my classmates to source a 15 rupees lunch of dosa with a bucket full of chutney from Kamadhenu Hotel at CAVA. At times, my friends, who were locals of Mysore, shared their food with me. After completing my BFA I have worked as a graphic designer in few MNCs to earn my living as well as keep the artist alive in me. Later, I started doing small roles in movies. My previous role was in a movie titled Kattu Kathe as a CID officer, and I am presently working on two kannada movies.
This is my journey, and how I became who I am today.”
Shivanand Shagoti – Man of Many Moods
“For me, painting is a very intimate process. Before even starting to paint, I complete half of it in my mind, and then I focus on enjoying the process rather than on the final outcome. Final outcome is synonymous to the end. Therefore, personally, my best creation is in which I communicate with the surface rather than await its completion.
Talking of the paintings ‘Fake Me, Real Reflections’, ‘Inside Out’, ‘Inside Imitator’, and ‘Non-transparent’, I discovered the beauty of self-portraits. My belief is in showing myself in every possible mood, in every possible direction, and in every possible movement, so that my art consumer is also able to connect with the subject, that is me, of the painting.”
There is also a hidden message conveyed here – Transparent faces are non-transparent with a transparent cloth. Finally, I have been successful in bringing forth the rhythm of life to showcase the moment and excitement in the audience. (symbolic to The Last Supper of Leonardo da Vinci)
I Have A Dream
“Back in 2007 in Mysore, while sipping tea with a few friends, I saw a vendor pull his cart of vegetables on an escalated road. I decided to lend a helping hand. While doing so, we conversed and I learnt about his family, his journey, and more about his livelihood to support his family. As soon as I returned to the tea stall, I quickly drew a rough sketch of what I just witnessed, with his cart, kids and family as subjects of my artwork. As a matter of fact, vegetable vendors faced a lot of difficulties during the pandemic. Therefore, I Have A Dream was most relevant during the pandemic and exposed our hard-hitting pandemic realities.”
Reverse Evolution – The Reality of our Times
“If you remember well, the pandemic was the time when we relied heavily on news. This was the time when I started observing the political mess, surrounded by their vague statements and promises as well as their flowery arguments. I saw a monkey in them, who was clueless about what to say.
While speaking of politics, I tend to keep subjects universal. Even if a consumer finds my paintings outside India, they will be able to resonate with my creation. In fact while exhibiting at Dubai and Qatar shows, people tended to understand the political turmoil reflected in this painting. According to me, if a problem is universal, so is its representation. In fact, I am very soon coming up with another painting around the same subject where politicians are shouting in front of the media just for the sake of it, representing a righteous behavior behind an animal figure.
Talking about if I received any criticisms for this painting, I would say yes, although it was a silent one. I submitted this painting for the National Award but it did not get selected, clearly reflecting the reason why.”
– Even though every human being has a disguise of dignified personality and social appearance, deep inside, every human has a monkey inside his head.
The Balcony Art
“I am always on the lookout for stories, and my balcony was one place where I could observe all possible life moments, juggling between fiction and reality. Every floor, and every closed door shouts a different, distinct story. This creative scheme popped up in my head in 2007 when I was staying in Malleshwaram, Bengaluru, on the eighth floor in a small room. Across my balcony I could see a world of its own in the form of apartments with people tootling in and out. A balcony is the mini India where people come together to live, to celebrate, and to defend their harmony (Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam).
My paintings around this concept are ‘Missing My Red Cheddi’, ‘Kahani Balcony Ki’, ‘A Story of the Balcony’, ‘and Apart Mentality’. There is a diversity that coexists in these paintings showcasing how we are one in a crowd with our own story, as someone in love, as someone navigating through life, as someone of a different age, and as someone lonely when the reality hits you. A balcony is the perfect place to connect with an identity, or many identities, independent of others around us.
The Bibliophile Within Shivanand
“I vaguely remember that in 2008-09, I visited a bookstore to purchase a book while hovering from one book section to another. That movement, that route I covered was meant to be deciphered on my canvas. When I came home, I immediately began working on it. This painting was then purchased by an art collector and is now displayed at Gallery Nature Morte, Gurgaon (during the ‘Five for the Future Artist’ show).
Additionally, yes, I am an avid reader and have been presently reading Poornachandra Tejaswi which my friend Nagaraj inspired me to read. It was a ritual to meet and discuss books, as well as exchange art books. Reading helps me greatly as it then sparks some ideas to create new concepts on the canvas. Indeed, paintings like ‘Search Never Ends’, ‘Midnight Reading’, and ‘Search Within Oneself’ were inspired from my list of readings.
In these paintings, I wish to showcase life’s never-ending search for hidden truth through a persona and a library as its central theme. Here, it is important to notice that using a single character, the artist is trying to assert the fact that even though people are different by nature and thoughts, the underlying truth and destinations about their lives are always the same.”
Shivanand Shagoti in Concentration
“It was quite a contrasting subject to the one I made previously when I showed myself in many forms. The paintings such as ‘A Never ending Story’, and ‘Easy, Yet Complicated’ were a product of my emotional turmoil and self-discovery in 2010 when my father had a knee-replacement operation. It was my turn to take onto responsibilities whilst handling everything – from painting, taking care of my father, to office work. After that, whenever I sat alone, an (un)conscious reading of myself began. As an artist, I have vision and I can show the visuals I imagine artistically, like a writer would do in words. Therefore, whatever I experience, I paint it, be it past, future, present, a dream, all that.
It is in contrast to the many of me finding their synthesis as one person. Consequently, if you observe, you could say that these paintings were a succession to the previous ones where my search for myself finally concluded. That is the reason that wherever I am in a sitting position, I can be seen in deep meditation, in black and white hues, smiling throughout whilst analyzing myself.”
Realism over Abstract Art
“While studying the first and second foundation in CAVA, I created a number of realistic paintings such as ‘Pattadakal’, ‘Hampi Watercolor Painting’, and ‘Mallikarjuna Temple’ as a part of my learning process. We were also sent on a one-month study tour to stay in one or two places to do nature inspired paintings. I have also sculpted in college, besides graphic and painting, as we were taught art on both flat and 3D surfaces.
Personally, I am not a fan of abstract paintings as paintings, for me, are a means of communication, not confusion. Although I cannot foresee the future, for now, I am certain that my paintings are easy to resonate with and can form a connection with their reader. My artwork is symbolic of a body to body touch, the heartfelt connection of skin to skin.”
Art Shows & Exhibitions
“My very first art exhibition was in 2012-13 at Gallery Nature Morte, Hotel Oberoi, Gurgaon. I was one of the five artists selected to exhibit my collection. In fact, I continue to maintain a friendly relationship with the organizers. Next, I displayed my work at the College of Art (now called Forum Art), then at Art District 13, New Delhi, followed by the World Art Dubai 2019. This year, I showcased at the CIMA Awards Show 2022 at the GEM Cinema, which is one of the oldest theaters in Kolkata.”
National Award Winner
“It was a startling experience – from being nominated for the International Artist Award at the World Art Dubai, 2018 to finally winning a National Award. It has inspired me to create more and more artworks. After four nominations, this award was my art validation that I had awaited for a long time. For the National Award, I reworked on the ‘I Have A Dream’ painting several times in order to strengthen its symbolism. This painting was then sold to a Mumbai client with the changed title ‘Journey Without Destination’.”
Shivanand, an Inspiration for Many
“Nowadays, I believe we must consider ourselves fortunate that we have so much exposure and that we save connection time through our smart devices. I would like to suggest to the budding artists that it is imperative to stop making art for their social media in the form of reels. In actual fact, they must commence enjoying the process rather than focus on finishing the artwork. In this way, anyone can create brilliant artwork.”
“For now there are many thoughts as I plan to showcase my paintings next year in Bangalore. Next, I can do a preview show as I will be approaching galleries outside India. I am also coming with a new series which I won’t reveal right aways. Although I can tell that in this series, each and every painting is different from each other, yet there will be a connection, either subject-wise or the way I treat the surface.”
Connect with Shivanand Shagoti through his following channels :