A New Canvas

Delving into digital art manipulation was never in Ashim Shakya’s plans, but as someone who has worked with most traditional forms of art, digital art was a logical conclusion.

Text by Archana Shrestha

He set his foot on the artistic platform in Nepal doing traditional art work. Mostly known for his digital art manipulation, which he claims he didn’t know the term for until later, Ashim Shakya is limitless when it comes to acing in any form of art. Be it his contemporary paintings, his stupendous artwork that has now begun to be known as “digital manipulation”, or his music compositions inspired by the omnipresent sounds in his vicinity, name it, and he will be found mastering each one of them.

Like most artists, Shakya struggles in creating still life and realistic imageries when he sits down with his paintbrush in hand and an empty canvas in front of him. As much as he loves doing traditional art work, he also believes that the traditional art works that he did worked only as ‘eye candy’, while he wanted his art to speak more, and his audience to contemplate deeper on the issues that his subconscious mind had to convey.

“Art was a hobby. Back then, I had a job in different fields to sustain my living,” he remembers when asked about his life before he started being known as an artist. He did low income jobs just for the sake of sustaining himself. His first jobs as an office assistant and then as a computer teacher in a school weren’t feeding his hunger for art. However, working on computers made him discover his fascination for digital art. He wanted to dive further into the realm of digital art, never to emerge for the mediocre jobs he didn’t believe were for him. He felt it was convenient and more exciting to portray his subjects through digital art than it was with other traditional form of art.

He believes that his artworks are the product of the enthrallment he feels towards video games and movies. “Video games help me a lot when it comes to expanding the horizon of my imagination,” he says. He is also an avid reader, letting his mind wander towards the subtle details in the books he reads, which influences the way in which he makes art.

Besides all these, he takes political happenings as his prime source of inspiration, which can be seen in most of the works that he puts up. “For a lazy person like me, my ultimate drive—to work it all out—is, I believe, that art is a destiny for an artist and his artwork. Art inspires and influences ones’ thought processes, and it can alter the entire path which one is supposed to take.” He believes that he has the duty of accomplishing that very objective through his art, that is, to fulfill his destiny.

Mostly confined in his inner space, his art studio, he avoids playing with opposing energies and doesn’t intertwine with society that much. He is content to work near home, where he is familiar with his surroundings and the omnipresent music that everyday happenings make. For him, that is how the inspiration and encouragement to work on a new art piece come from. “When you stop mimicking others, you’ll discover your true self. What is inside you comes out when you keep working on what you believe in,” he says, when asked about his motivation as an artist.

Even though all the art pieces that Shakya has worked on have been phenomenal from the beginning, however, the artworks that had brought Ashim Shakya under the spotlight in the artistic world were ‘Enclosed’ and ‘Mellow Dwellings’ to name a few.

Created after the earthquake, Ashim’s take on portraying Nepal as a landlocked country (therefore, the title) in ‘Enclosed’ and how the Kathmanduities “who do not travel much” think of Kathmandu as their only world, was thought to gather all the more positive feedbacks from his well-wishers. “I didn’t mean to portray any negativity. I thought it was the reality for most of us back then. The rest of the message is extracted from the audience.” To add further, another of his ‘viral’ digital art, ‘Mellow Dwellings’, was able to catch the audience’s eyes for its subtleness and the images that are formed in one’s head while one is looking at something so irrelevant.

Besides the stroke of his brushes and digital art making, Ashim also has a great passion for music. “I cannot choose between wanting to be a musician or an artist. I believe that I have an equal passion for both. But I had to focus on only one thing at a time and I did it for art. I didn’t want to end up being jack of all trades and master of none or at least that is what I used to think,” he says.

Shakya is debuting in the musical field through an upcoming Nepali action movie ‘Xira’ which he thinks is the right platform for him to start as a musician. “Right now, I am dragging music along with whatever I have done with my art,” says Ashim. He also fuses his digital art with his musical compositions which he has done in ‘Sonic Pagoda’ and ‘Ba 48’. Shakya writes his own lyrics, does the singing, and plays most of the musical instruments himself.

Breaking free from what the society thinks is right or wrong for others, Ashim Shakya rebelled his way out to what he is truly passionate about, which has led him to be one of the most sought out artist of today. He is glad that what he tries to impart to the society is being done through the medium of art, and he will never stop being inspired by our ethnicity and culture.