Dubai Doodle Diary -Gulf Today, Interview
by Sijin Gopinathan on August 23, 2018

Dubai-based doodle/mural artist Sijin Gopinathan says he specialises in instilling life into fantasy. He is a multi disciplinary professional: an illustrator, painter and photographer, he has worked on art projects in the UAE, New Zealand and USA, and has had his own international art exhibition.

A doodle, for those who think it the pursuit of toddlers and artistically challenged wannabes, is actually a well recognised art genre. Popular kinds of doodles include famous TV or comic characters, invented fictional beings, landscapes, geometric shapes, patterns and textures.

Alexander Pushkin’s notebooks are celebrated for their superabundance of marginal doodles, which include sketches of friends’ profiles, hands and feet. They are regarded as a work of art in their own right!

Nobel laureate (in literature, 1913) Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore made huge number of doodles in his manuscripts. Romantic poet and physician John Keats doodled in the margins of his medical notes; other literary doodlers have included Samuel Beckett and Sylvia Plath. Some doodles and drawings can be found in the notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci!

Gopinathan’s relationship with art began very early when as a young man, he was inspired by iconic Kerala painter Raja Ravi Varma and Indian art great M F Husain.

“I am an artist by passion and a User Interface (Web/Mobile app) designer by profession”, he says. “They give me the power to generate unlimited ideas and possibilities. Being involved with them always like always coming home to your creative soul”.

He doodles to Time Out about himself and his work

* Why did you take up doodling? You could have chosen any other genre …

It has been around ten years since I started focusing on doodle art. Initially, I was pretty much inspired and drawn towards works of (Kerala) artist Nambuthiri and his elegant style.

During those days, I was in fact an explorer, experimenting with different techniques. I did a lot of paintings - murals - doodles, just for the fun of it.

But I think I am in general an easy going guy! I liked the idea of seizing the moment and freezing it on a canvas straight away: you just need a paper and pen for this! That’s the beauty of doodles! The bonus is that it doesn’t matter if am in the metro, a bus or cab - I can doodle everywhere.

* What is the pen you use?

As I said, I doodle everywhere, with any sort of pen and paper. I do it because I have to! But I do have some favourite picks in my bag. UniPin - Fine line permeant ink pen (0.8 - 0.1) for paper; Bear Hair Chinese Calligraphy Brushes for canvas …

* Do you define your oeuvre strictly as doodle art or are there elements of draughtsmanship and illustration in it?

Actually, I cannot strictly classify my works in the doodle genre. I do lots of mural art too. My doodles are greatly influenced by the mural style. In fact, I started off with mural art and with time, evolved into a doodle artist. So it’s a kind of mix. But I hope the doodle is my trademark.

* You seem stronger in the black and white format than colour. Is it so?

There is public notion that colours can convey emotions. It’s true; but that’s rich art. I want to make things simple. For example, utilise the power of shades extensively.

I would like to showcase all sorts of expression through my black and white doodles. Once Robert Frank, the renowned photographer said, black and white symbolise hope and despair, to which mankind is forever subjected. I believe black and white can create art that colours never can.

* You also do murals. What is the link between murals and doodling?

I grew up adoring mural artworks. Mural art is a part of Indian traditional art. Many temples in my native land have pretty beautiful mural paintings, of religious deities.

Mural paintings are relatively harder to create. One needs to analyse different colour compositions. It needs at least a week to complete a single artwork. But I can’t explain the feeling that one gets once he finishes the work well!

I was fortunate to have quite a bit of experience in mural painting. With that sort of a practice, doodling came relatively easy to me. I loved the monochrome figures I doodle. The lines and strokes do have some similarities; but they differ in their basic nature.

By engaging in both, I never get tired of anything! I believe in detailing and my subjects are related to woman empowerment, cultural diversity, nature and pollution. I add a fantasy element in every artwork and it is also a learning process for me to create different patterns, textures, etc.

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