Perishious’ marks the birth of his signature artivism. For 39-year-old Suvigya Sharma, who has been busy reviving the dying form of miniature art, taking the plunge into the world of NFTs was natural. Last year, he created NFTs of stunning works centred around wildlife, setting the near-extinct polar bear and rhinoceros against massive hyper-realistic 3D backgrounds. The proceeds from the upcoming auction of these artworks will go towards the conservation of these species.
Are NFTs and digital artworks satisfying, since his forte includes Pichwais, Tanjores, fresco wall paintings, and sandalwood sculptures? “Definitely,” says Sharma. “A lot of time is saved while creating digital art. The exposure and prospects for a digital artist are great today. I find NFTs both interesting and transformational.” ‘Perishious’ (a portmanteau word for precious and perish) comprises animals such as the hippopotamus, rhinoceros, giraffe, polar bear and sparrow. “Nilgai is on the cards. I’m working on the raccoon, panda, sloth bear and a few rare species of eagles,” he shares, adding that there will be amphibians and mammals in his upcoming NFTs that will be unveiled in the latter-half of 2023.
“Through my work, I want to give back to Nature as a human being first. Global warming is a growing concern that is highly impacting animal habitats and survival. Art has great power to trigger human emotions and bring change,” says Jaipur-based Sharma. He explains that the popular response to ‘Perishious’ has been phenomenal since its launch a year ago. It has got 11 stunning additions now. The pandemic was a blessing in disguise since it gave him time and opportunity to work on his collection, three to four paintings at a time. It took two years to design the 24 artworks. “I’ve been promoting ‘Perishious’ through launches in prominent galleries worldwide. Auctions were held in Dubai in March this year.
That was just the pre-launch,” he smiles. The first official show happens in Dubai on November 12 this year. “Most importantly, we have a presence on the most prominent NFT platforms across the world. Next is an exhibition in Vancouver with a leading gallery,” he adds.
Sharma, a third-generation artist, was seven when he first picked up the paintbrush. His father RK Sharma is a well-known Jaipur artist specialising in miniature paintings for the last 30 years. The son has used acrylic as the medium in ‘Perishious’, which sports fine detailing in every square inch. This is behind the NFT’s 3D effect.
“I wished to create a miniature painting on a big canvas while keeping aesthetics modern and relatable,” Sharma explains. During his childhood, he saw Indian artists at work on miniatures, Nathadwara shaili, Kishangarh shaili and so on in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Mysore. “I’m an artist at heart. My family heritage belongs to the Nathdwara painters, who have worked for royal families, heritage homes, politicians, celebrities, industrialists and international art galleries,” he elaborates.
Two decades ago, the industry demand transitioned from folk art to contemporary forms, rendering many artists jobless. “My first challenge was to adapt while nurturing the fading art forms. By championing miniature art in India and across the world, my challenge lies in re-introducing it in different ways to the global connoisseur,” he says. Sharma has partnered exclusively with OwlUnited, an NFT Project, to build an inclusive investment club where every NFT holder will be an active shareholder of a licenced company.
There will be auctions of the best digital artworks, and the artist and OwlUnited will share the proceeds equally. Their combined mission is to protect endangered species globally. Sharma plans to engage talented digital artists in India to create some of OwlUnited’s 33,333 NFTs, a part of which will be auctioned at a pre-sale event held on OpenSea, the world’s largest NFT marketplace. “We’ve received around 100 entries for OwlUnited,” he says. The minting process starts in November on OpenSea.
Turning points abound in his career. A friend’s portrait he painted in Mumbai in 2008 fetched Sharma instant references. His works now adorn the homes of Narendra Modi, Ramnath Kovind, celebrities such as Priyanka Chopra, Kangana Ranaut, Rani Mukherjee, Anushka Sharma, Sachin Tendulkar and corporate barons L N Mittal, the Ambanis, Birlas and Singhanias. He is also engaged in recreating centuries-old art pieces in India and at foreign locations, including the murals and frescoes of City Palace in Jaipur and the Singapore Art Museum.
What is his biggest epiphany so far? “You rise, fall and rise again. Take disappointments in your stride as much as you take success. If you talk to people with humility, you will go far,” he says. He has shows coming up across the world, and has signed up associations with exclusive American and British galleries by 2023. “It is when we will launch Suvigya Sharma 2.0,” he grins.