Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - Brunch

SOCIAL ST(ART)

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The son of acclaimed artist Subodh Kerkar, 62, who runs the Museum of Goa, Siddharth has been exposed to art since his childhood, having visited the Venice Biennale four times, and been the youngest artist at the age of 19 at an artist residency programme in Portugal.

It was while he was studying in Europe that he came across a new trend.

“There was this craze in 2015-16 to vlog everything,” he explains. “So while creating work, I also shot stuff on my Gopro. I loved creating videos, so that’s how it all began.”

Today, he has 79.9k followers on his personal Instagram account. His art account is much smaller, with 11k followers, but he prefers it that way. This is his “niche audience”.

“Within days of my video getting higher views during the lockdown, I started getting enquiries for my work, and I realised that there probably is no one right now making the kind of content I do,” says Siddharth. “Setting up a separate account for my art was also about the fact that if a million people are following me, but really don’t connect with my art, it doesn’t make sense. It is the 50,000 who connect with my work who matter, because they are genuinely interested in what I create. The two accounts also help me grow my network the way I like it.”

Siddharth learnt the tricks of the influencer game early on from a social media influencer he had been dating. With his Gopro, he tried creating content on fashion and travel. Art then took a backseat for a year and a half.

“I did collaborat­ions with British government and I was in London, so travel was easier,” he says about that time. “But when the lockdown hit and I came back home, I got back to my art and, over the past two years, I have had the inspiratio­n to create in my studio.”

Even a brand collaborat­ion on Siddharth’s handle are done artistical­ly, where he can be seen sipping on beer while working on canvas.

“I’m finally getting to work with brands that I resonate with, and it has taken a long time to reach this place where I can associate with the brands I want to work with,” he says. This allows him creative freedom; the presence of the brands does not come at the cost of the art he creates whether in the videos or on canvas.

“BETWEEN 2016 AND 2018, I WORKED ON A SERIES OF 50-60 PAINTINGS MEANT TO BE EXHIBITED AT THE MUSEUM OF GOA. BARELY ANYTHING SOLD.” —SIDDHARTH KERKAR, ARTIST

FRIEND ZONE

Balancing that thin line between his art and the demands of the brands that contribute to his earnings is extremely important to Siddharth. That’s because most of his commission­ed work and enquiries come directly from Instagram. Has that changed the rules of how artists exhibit and sell their work?

“My art is not just for buying but also about recreating,” says Siddharth. “I use things like sawdust and household materials to create textures. During the lockdown, I made a lot of art and documented it much more, and I had about 50-100 projects with even galleries approachin­g me to exhibit,” he smiles.

Art is not the only thing that Siddharth creates

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