Before you read on, I want you to:
Mentally strip all existing artwork from the walls of your favourite room; ditch the decorative curios, collectibles and what not crammed in the tables and sideboards.
Then, in your mind’s eye, visualize a Vishal Misra art (large acrylic canvas featuring a subliminal Indian theme) placed strategically at eye-level.
Each time I have performed this exercise, I have been stunned by how Vishal’s work can complete any space with its hypnotic presence. The room doesn’t need anything else to embellish it.
Here’s neat thing; one doesn’t have to be a connoisseur of art or schooled in some aspect of it to appreciate the lines and the stroke of his brush and the harmony of colours.
Vishal’s repertoire of subjects spans the breadth of human consciousness. Spiritualism, eroticism and street scenes from India are all elevated into abstract pieces that speak to you on a visceral level.
Recognize a whiff of Picasso or M.F. Hussain in Vishal’s work? That’s incidental. The Toronto artist/illustrator admits he’s self-taught and heavily influenced by the cubistic styles of the two masters.
During the day, this transplant from Mumbai, handles numbers, financial projections and audits. In the evenings and weekends, he transforms into an all-consuming artist completely lost in the pigment of his imagination. Yes, that’s a “pigment” not figment.
“As an accountant and artist, I balance two lifestyles,” Vishal says. “Between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. the left brain is boxed in with rules, regulations and numbers, but then when I am on the GO Train and I get my hands on a blank page, I feel can do whatever I want and let the right brain take over.”
Well, it was in the train Vishal realized the potential of his talent.
A few years after Vishal immigrated to Canada, he was on the train, doodling away and oblivious to his surroundings when a fellow passenger asked him if he would give her the sketch he was working on. Vishal refused. The woman persisted and then offered him $50.
“The accountant in me became interested when she offered the money,” he recalled. “That was the first time I realized that people would actually pay for my art.”
Born to middle-class parents, Vishal grew up in Mumbai. Even though his Dad dabbled in art (purely as a hobby), his parents believed academics was the only thing that mattered. And like every other South Asian parents on the planet, the Misras too wanted their son to become either a doctor or an engineer.
When Vishal landed in Toronto, he went back to school, upgraded his education and soon after landed a job with a well-known accounting firm. At this time, he began to reconnect with the easel and the brush and became a member of the Mississauga Arts Council (MAC). The consortium helped him to grow, network and interact with other artists.
Over the last eight years, Vishal’s works have graced the walls of numerous solo and group exhibitions in Canada, the U.S., Asia, Middle East and Europe. Some of his bigger works currently command four figures and an artist, Vishal is well recognized here in North America.
In 2005, Vishal met and married Anu Vittal, an artist as well and began to articulate his emotions through art. In Anu, Vishal found his muse. Sketches with underlying tones of eroticism soon began filling his sketchbook.
“I wanted to explore the idea of a human relationship and how it grows, evolves and continues,” he explained. “Sexuality is a big part of that because it represents an intersection of emotional and physical aspect of the relationship.”
Vishal then decided to interject contemporary and western-style elements to traditional Kama Sutra images. His fresh linear look offers a new perspective to century-old art.
“I wanted the sketches to be both evocative and provocative,” he said. “I interplay the interaction of various positions of the male and female form beyond the realm of black and white.”
In each and every piece, Vishal infuses his art with his interpretation of events. He begins by capturing an idea then distorting it so that the viewer sees in it what they want to see.
You can take a peek at Vishal’s portfolio here.