“At the end of the day, my mind is all colored picture-perfect on canvas.”
Bonzer Muivah is an artist/illustrator from Nagaland who thought he couldn’t pursue a serious career as an artist. Today, his artworks are a testament to the fact that sometimes trusting your gut feeling and just going for it can be quite rewarding. Bonzer’s core theme around his art is strongly based on preserving the rich Naga culture and tradition.
We interviewed the artist to gain insight into his artistic mind and find out why he considers the horn symbol as one of his biggest influences in his artworks
Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Bonzer Muivah. I was born and brought up in Mon, Nagaland, Northeast India. I graduated with a Fine Art degree from College of Art, Delhi University and I am currently based in New Delhi.
Introduce us to your work. On what themes are they based on?
My work is mostly painting and illustrations. They are based strongly on culture, ethnic and tribal stories. A lot of my artwork also has a lot of narratives about the strength and essence of a woman. I find beauty in acknowledging their beautiful soul, simplicity, depth and putting it all together on a canvas or paper.
“DANCING SOUL” A young Naga girl getting ready in her traditional attire to dance at the Moatsu festival – harvest festival of the Ao Naga tribe.
What is your artistic process like?
Painting is my very own definition of my mind. Whatever comes and goes, whatever strikes my mind, any random thoughts, anything that amuses me and inspires me, I put them all together and sketch them. At the end of the day, my mind is all colored picture perfect on canvas.
What initially parked your interest in this field?
As a kid I was always keen about sketching but I never knew that I could pursue a serious career as an artist. I was a science student and wanted to pursue engineering after my 12th. But I met this artist based in London, who came to Mon for a sculpture project. I was home for a short vacation and I was already preparing for my engineering entrance. It was then I saw his work and the enthusiasm that he had towards his very own creativity; I was completely blown away. There was so much passion in what he did, it was more than just a career. The next day I was on a plane headed to Delhi. My sister had already gotten me a form for College of Art, Delhi University. So, I’d say he was one of my biggest inspirations behind what I do today.
What’s your creative philosophy?
There’s this quote I live by and I feel it in my bones, it’s by Henry Ward Beeche that goes, “Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.” Time and again, this has been my philosophy in creating my art and have followed it each time I begin on any of my paintings.
What do you do full-time? If part time, how do you manage to indulge in your hobby?
I recently graduated, so I have not really gotten into it full-time yet. I’m usually just on my desk playing my playlist and illustrating, keeping my painting on canvas aside for a while. I am taking a year gap before my Masters. I’m exploring to learn and experience more on being outdoors and in the field in and around Delhi. So yes, I am a free lancer for now.
Are you working on any current projects or future ventures?
I have been working on some commission work when I have some time off my personal interest. I have also done a project for Amnesty International, and right now I am involved as a team member for Art for Change Foundation in International Artist Residency.
What do you hope to achieve with your art?
I want my art to bring positivity. I want people to reflect rather than react. For instance, I have a lot of influence with the symbol of horns and some of my painting series have been based on them. Most people don’t really know the true meaning of the horn. It is always taken in a negative way, and so I want to recreate the negativity into a positive impact.
“I’m trying to preserve the rich culture and tradition we have as a Naga, along with my own depictions and symbols of the horns.”
Can you single out an art piece from your work which you are particularly proud of?
There is this piece called, ‘Prince of Peace’ I did in September 2017, during an Art residency which was organized by Art for Change. It’s one of the most recent works I have put into my collection of Horns. The painting has the characteristic of Jesus Christ, the calm look, connecting to the Father. The horn symbolizes the power of truth, strength, honor and salvation.
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