The Visionary Exploration of AASHNA AASIF in a Feminist and Digital Era – On The Blockchain (Interview Part One)
Aashna’s creativity goes beyond a channel of abstract connection to any source, she uses remarkable techniques and adds her ancient and modern knowledge into it.
From a first sight, we see the female character as a main character of any of her artwork. On a close connection with Hinduism, the main theological principle of her home country (India), she is inspired by the archetypes of Shakti, the women energy, or Yin.
Taking a closer look, Aashna has a background of studies in arts and is currently developing a Doctor’s thesis on Visionary Art, including a feminist perspective of women’s present in the art industry, as creators, curators and collectors.
Today, Aashna has launched a Collection of 4 NFT artworks, setting up her own space on the Blockchain for the first time.
Her Collection is available on Rarible and OpenSea, with the support of VisionaryArt.io NFT Agency. In her description of the events, Aashna commented to us how closely interesting it has been to develop a relationship with an Agency and Gallery working on different approaches, with a mission to protect art and inspire the world. We thank her for trusting us with such a unique Collection of selected artworks.
Interview Part One
How are you feeling?
I’m feeling great! Apart from minor work stress which is good, I’m feeling really grounded and hopeful for the future.
Let us know a bit of your background story: where do you come from? What roots lay within your DNA?
Well, I come from central India, my parents were both born in Madhya Pradesh, but they come from different faiths, my dad is a Muslim while my mom is a Hindu, they met at NCC (youth wing of Indian Armed Forces) and had a love-marriage (which was pretty rare in India at that time). Their families initially resisted but their love won and then they had me. As a child I was raised with a lot of love and care, being the top priority of my parents I was allowed to explore my interests. My parents being from different backgrounds, I have been exposed to contrasting beliefs since as a child, but I was always encouraged to follow my heart and respect all beliefs. My roots taught me to grow and have compassion for others, though sometimes I do feel like an outsider because I don’t completely belong to either side of families haha, I’m not religious however I take part in all the different customs on both sides, so its a best of both world kinda situation. My ancestors came from different parts of India, namely Maharashtra, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, so I’m a cocktail of different cultures and beliefs amalgamated into one artist.
When did you start painting? What was your first painting?
Well, I started painting as a toddler, my mother is an artist and a teacher, so I always had paints and colours around me. I asked my mom recently, what was my first painting (since I was really small when I made it), she told me I took a crayon, laid my face on a paper sideways, and traced along my face and made an outline, I’d say that was my first painting and self portrait. I found this interesting because portraits (and self portraits) are still special to me, I’m always trying to understand and remake myself, these small incidents really mean something when you think about it. I would also grab a brush, dip it in a large bucket of paint that my mom was using to finish a painting, and would take the dipped brush all the way to the other room and paint on walls in reckless abandon. The real credit here goes to my parents for letting me do my thing even though I left a big mess for them to clean up afterwards haha.
After that, what did you focus on?
I continued to paint and draw throughout my childhood, winning competitions almost every weekend, but I took painting seriously when I was in high school, and I realised I had much much more to learn and improve, and decided to do my undergraduate in Fine Arts. That is when I was exposed to the world of visionary art, and I was struck with awe! Usually people are drawn towards spiritual thought and then move towards visionary art, for me it was the other way round, the visionary images beckoned me towards this portal of insight and understanding, and I entered through that image. Since then I have focused on my own insights and visions and slowly unearthing myself and the mysteries of the world one by one.
Do you consider having a mission in this life? Is art your way of pursuing it?
If you had asked me this a year ago, I would have said no. I’m a nihilist sometimes, denying any real purpose of existence/ life, since those are man-made concepts. But having a mission that matters to you, is a different kind of movement. It is still not clear to me, but psychedelics, plant medicine and exploration of the psyche have a profound calling for me and lately I have been gravitating towards realising this mission slowly but surely. I don’t think I’m special in any way, but I feel a slow and strong humming which calls me to explore myself and offer my gifts to the world in a way that can spread more beauty and insight into the world. And I see no better way to do this but by making art with all my heart!
Can you tell us a story of yourself?
So, after finishing my post-graduate course, I didn’t really have any big plans (in terms of art or anything else) I had plans to get a job as a professor (since that’s the only sure way to get a decent paying job for a Fine Arts student in India). To land that job, I first had to do a PhD, which I enrolled for and got selected in a state university in a remote location. Nothing was special, but slowly things began to become unique. My university is a Buddhist-Indic university, so upon my enrolment, I decided to look for topics of research, the Buddhist element attracted me to Mandalas, and I wanted to do my thesis on that, still I had no real direction. A year ago, I had told a friend and fellow artist about Vienna’s Academy of Visionary Art, I really wanted to visit and study there, but I didn’t have enough money, but my friend did and she took a course there, and she brought back with her a book by Laurence Caruana. The book titled ‘The First Manifesto of Visionary Art’, opened me up to a new understanding and gave words to my inner feeling when I saw (and made) visionary art. Even though I could not go to Vienna, the teachings came to me, and I even learned Mischteknick from my friend! Fast forward to my thesis selection, I was prompted to explore the Indian side of visionary art, Caruana mentioned the roots of visionary art being in ancient eastern Buddhist art, but there was no elaboration for the same, and there were no real research papers on this, so I decided to pave that way and understand visionary art from a new perspective. There is much work done on Mandalas, but my view was to explore the Visionary side of it, how the artists are not merely following religious directions, but accessing altered states of consciousness and bringing back images from that realm and creating art. This is what Visionary Art is, but this understanding is not elaborated upon from the perspective of what consciousness really is.
This thesis has been more than just a thesis, but a focal point that is tying all the different aspects of me and my life into one, my art, my love for psychology, the intrigue for mysticism, my urge to understand reality and beyond. I never expected to want more than just a job, but now I have a real mission to collect, unravel and synthesise new knowledge for a thing that really matters to me.
Do you have any future plans?
My future plans include exploration, of myself and of the universe. I plan to complete my thesis, in addition to making art that feels authentic and real to me, that lets me express my inner self. Art is not just a profession to me anymore, it is my path towards revelation, it has been waiting for me to understand this, slowly letting me catch on and follow my own psyche’s calling, and now I feel like I have a path to create & follow through.
Who & what inspires you to get up in the morning, to create, to be happy?
The love and dedication of my parents that has been put into creating me, a functioning human with unique talents and gifts, gives me the push to get up and be something. In addition to that, the sheer beauty that is just existing and perishing out in the world, the transient moments of absolute magic that constantly keep unfolding in nature give me a reason to stay alive, curious and fill me with a sense of joy to just be able to witness this beauty called existence. It also pushes me to create and be an active part of this process of unfolding.
How do you perceive the importance of women in modern times?
The woman is a portal that literally connects the immaterial realm to the material realm, this ideology however is not limited to giving birth to a human! As women, we have immense power to create. We have immense willpower, resolve, creativity and beauty at our disposal, and that is a unique set of abilities as a mortal. The women in modern times are empowered, we are lucky to exist in this slice of time where we can go out and explore and make a difference. We have the option to create a world where our gifts can make a difference, help others and create opportunities for those living in the future. We are not only nurturers but also alchemists, we can turn the ordinary into the extraordinary.
Thank you so much for these questions, for your lovely aura and for all your support! Have a great day
Grateful Aashna, welcome to VisionaryArt.io!
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