Wednesday, March 11, 2015

An illustrated dream: Gaurav Ogale for Kyoorius

It's beautiful how Kyoorius, India's most carefully curated Design Magazine and website has been chronicling my journey for the last six odd years. Here is my piece in their 'Opinion' column on my most recent escaped to Morocco. This piece is more about the design aspect. I am sharing some more pictures specially for all of you.



                                                                            ~ 

“I tell stories.”
“No but what do you do?”
“Yes, I tell stories for a living”
I was grinning as I glanced out of the aircraft window and saw a place that I had only seen on Discovery Channel. Its aromatic cuisine and bustling streets were all going to be right in front of me in a few minutes. Flying through those three continents, from one country to another, that academic degree from a design school seemed even more trivial now. There I was, standing with a box of colours in a strange country, to showcase my work and translate anecdotes into visual journals; no different from what I had made at 9 years of age with coy brush strokes hardly visible on canvas.
Art was introduced to me by my grandfather, and a very special teacher who came home and painted with me. My mother had introduced me to cooking when I was very young. You might wonder how these two things are even remotely connected. It was incredible how my parents nurtured my art and love for cooking.



In India, art and design residencies are still finding their feet and are often caught between commerce and infrastructure, however they are quite common in the West. All sorts of people participate, immerse themselves in the spaces and collaborate with each other, in turn making these ideal networking opportunities. For me, it was a way to identify my calling.
I was invited for a month long residency at The Ultra Laboratory in Casablanca, for artists and independent art spaces focused on research and experimentation. Rita Alaoui, a contemporary artist and bookmaker, founded this residency a few years ago. Rita had patiently gone through my project proposal when I wrote to them to take part in the residency and we instantly connected when I spoke of Indian cuisine. There was one more connection between us, which we figured out much later – a love for making books. Through the residency, I got to experience many other things which were far more interesting than illustration. Sharing some of my mom’s and grandmother’s secret recipes in the workshops which I conducted not only helped me earn a livelihood in Morocco during my stay there, but also became a conversation starter. It overcame language barriers and spices became my language.








While I was there, I was also constantly translating what I saw, heard and felt onto my little hand-bound books. I was intrigued by walls, textures, windows, architecture; Morocco opened up a world to me. Most of the illustrations I made here revolved around architecture, landscapes and the organised chaos in this surreal land. I worked on making three journals, filled with watercolors and words, two of which were minuscule and handcrafted. I was able to save up some funds from the meals I hosted and that helped me travel further to my next stops – Marrakech and Rabat.





In Marrakech, I took part in another residency and exchanged one of my works for a weeklong stay in a beautiful quaint Riad (a quintessential Moroccan home). On the evening of the show, I was thrilled to see people from all walks of life exploring my books and to find that they did not need my help to interpret them. They came from a very different culture, and it would seem as though we had nothing in common and yet we had so much. 

Ideally, after graduating from design school I would have probably headed straight to an agency and maybe created only as much but it would have left me feeling empty somehow. Working independently does have a down-side but on the whole, it opens you to an ocean of possibilities and collaborations to look forward to. I have been traveling alone since I was 16 years old and illustration has helped me find the balance between travel and work. Just goes to show that if you are in sync with all your senses and are open to all sorts of conversations, you can create your own opportunities and gain some mesmerising experiences in return. 

Who would have thought that something as simple as love for cooking could bring to life a different kind of dream for an illustrator like me.

                                                                    ~
Gaurav Ogale is an independent visual chronicler and writer from India. His hand bound visual journals document anecdotes, nostalgic conversations, recipes and thoughts that he travels with. His works have been featured in several publications like The NatGeo Traveller magazine, The Dharamsala Film Festival’14, Posterama Singapore, Mint and Kyoorius to name a few.



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