Meet the artist who is exploring religion, society and sexuality through his surreal paintings [InUth Original]

Jayesh Joshi, a new age artist from Bangalore, is painting a new message of religion into the Artscape with his latest 'New God Series'

Jayesh Joshi, or Jayman as he likes to call himself, is a 21-year-old visual artist, illustrator and rapper. His love for making art is evident if you happen look through his various social media accounts. His latest work, the ‘New God Series’, explores Jayesh’s personal perception and relationship with religion, God, and his understanding of sexuality when viewed through the lens of culture. His portraits are based on the photography of Haris Nukem.

In the first installment of this series, Jayesh attempts to recreate aspects of religious conformity from his own experiences and the result is definitely striking. “Me and (the idea of) God have had a rough path… although, that doesn’t stop me from exhibiting my opinions,” says Jayesh about this particular artwork of his.

The first piece of the series, titled New Angel, represents his relationship with a higher power. “I saw things in my own family; which made me question faith in God and people, both. I saw my mother – helpless and weak. We would all pray to the sky together, hoping things will be alright,” he writes as caption to the painting.

“But they only got better when we took charge and started doing what we wished to happen.. we all have power inside us. We are all Gods.”

Titled New Angel, this is his first installment in his 'New God Series"

Titled New Angel, this is the first portrait in his ‘New God Series”. Illustration Credit: Jayesh Joshi

The second piece in this series is his way of asking: could God be human?

“The goal,” he writes, “is to look at God.. in a more human sense, to see him in everyone and pay the same amount of respect to the people we meet and see regardless of their background or faith.”

Titled 'New Allah' this is the second installment in his New God Series

This is the second work in his New God Series. Illustration Credit: Jayesh Joshi

The third piece, titled ‘New Devi’ seeks to challenge the usual depiction of women as he tries to portray a ‘woman owning up to her sexuality and religion in harmony’.

Talking about the motivation behind his painting, Jayesh writes, “Sita, didn’t stand for the constant doubt she was put up against. Kali, Lakshmi, Sarasvati and many other goddesses were bold and beautiful. The image of a woman in my country is now changing, but in the name of religion, a lot of these images get blurred and voices get (sup)pressed [sic].”

Titled 'New Devi' this is the third instalment in his 'New God Series'

Titled ‘New Devi’ this is the third work in his ‘New God Series’. Illustration Credit: Jayesh Joshi

In a freewheeling conversation, Jayesh speaks about his inspirations:
What inspired you to take up art as a form of expression?

I have been doodling since I was 2 years old, it’s something very natural to me and is an innate part of me. I am not a very vocal person in terms of how I feel, and with art, I basically try to reflect that.

With artists using social media now more than ever, is it difficult to carve a niche and/or get discovered?

I don’t think so, I have been growing healthily ever since I started putting work up. Talking about the niche, I feel most social media artists these days are similar in terms of ideas they reflect on; it helps cause these ideas are in line with the world but what about the world that resides inside you? This world is what I am trying to paint.
Not things that appeal to people, not things that people might want to share rather things that make people feel.

Who are your favourite artists and the famous pieces of art that inspire you?

Oh, I have a lot of favourite artists, but my personal favourites are Pablo Picasso, Sam Spratt and Jean-Michel Basquiat. I am planning on getting my favourite artwork tattooed on me – a piece is from Picasso’s series titled ‘Tete de Femme’ which featured paintings of different muses and lovers.

A lot of the art you create is explicit in nature, is it a conscious choice?

I don’t believe my illustrations to be explicit. I’m trying to communicate a lot more with skin. I believe it’s the most honest expression. And again, it’s not lewd, sexual in nature. More than the body, the artwork lies in the treatment. Every piece is treated differently and the treatment showcases my mind space and what really I’m trying to express.

Is it a conscious effort to make the depiction of sexuality as natural as the depiction of other issues, since our society does not normally include it in discourse?

It is conscious but it’s not like I’m forcing or trying too hard. This comes naturally to me. I try to paint memories of moments with illustrations. I don’t address issues outside of me yet because I want to honest and not impose or assume someone else’s position. It’s necessary to portray because these aren’t images from actual events. It’s an account of how that moment made me feel. And for me, art is the only expression. That’s why it’s necessary.

Also Read: This Instagram artist tells you why it’s brilliant that women are no longer coy about their sexuality
At present, Jayesh is exploring masculinity in the Mahabharata by looking at certain in-betweens in the story as a part of his graduation project. Looking forward to it? Same!

You can check out his work on Instagram here: @jaymanshere

You can follow his artwork on Behance @jaymandraws

You can follow his work on Facebook @jaymanartworks

Note: This is an InUth Original

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