Thokchom Sony has been drawing and painting for as long as he can remember. He would find a canvas in the unlikeliest of places—across the walls of his home or between the blank pages of someone’s used notebooks— and many imaginary worlds would magically surface upon them through his pencils and crayons.
“It just comes naturally. I paint what I love and feel. Whimsical, lively, transparency, human emotions, nature—these are the areas of my interest. I think a person’s work reflects his or her personality and inner being, subconsciously,” says Sony.
Although Sony does not hail from a conventionally artsy family, he does tell us that there was a definite strain of creativity.
“My mother used to weave bed sheets, while my dad used to make traditional murah (bamboo stick stool) in his spare time. Sometimes, he even used to cut our hair, all by himself,” he laughs.
A native of Manipur, where art was not considered a viable livelihood option, it took a lot of convincing on Sony’s side to let his father understand his son’s mushrooming talent and let him passionately follow his dreams.
After a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Jamia Millia Islamia, followed by a Postgraduate Diploma in Visual Effects and Animation from AJK Mass Communication Research Centre, Sony has been living the life he had always wanted to—creating artistic spaces!
Take a look at some of his works.
Apart from strong feminine figures claiming a significant space across the canvas, what one can notice standing out in each of his works are the natural elements interspersed along with these characters, almost giving these a dream-like quality.
“Little things in nature matter because these are as much part of the beautiful world as we are. I often draw wild grass and tiny flowers in the background of my paintings because I want people to see how beautifully detailed the patterns are in the tiny plants that most people fail to appreciate or even bother looking at,” Sony explains.
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Another essential aspect persistent in his watercolours is the intrinsically cultural influence emanating from his northeastern roots, which makes his works all the more fascinating and intriguing.
Mixing traditional elements with a contemporary touch, what Sony intends to convey through his watercolour works is a space that everyone can relate to and be inspired to explore further.
“We have been visually and mentally fed that certain culture, tradition and religion are the standards to look up or follow and so we have been caged to fit in these standards. For me, familiarity plays a crucial role in creating a work. Having grown up amidst a community that has been weaving for its livelihood since generations, it was inevitable for the budding artist in me to root for such homegrown inspirations,” says Sony.
An extremely social person who loves to explore new places and cultures, Sony spends his spare time seeking inspiration, when he is not already working on some new theme.
“This could be anything—an insect or a plant or even an autorickshaw driver with whom I’d chat and hear his stories till I reach my destination. There is so much to learn from other people, culture, and nature. As far as fashion is concerned, the folks who catch my attention are the ones expressing themselves by pushing boundaries beyond the ideals of standard beauty,” muses Sony.
At present, Sony works as a contractual faculty member in Jamia Millia—his alma mater—where he takes classes on art and pre-productions, twice or thrice in a week.
He is doing what he loves, and what Sony has to say for countless art aspirants who are lost or discouraged from pursuing the field, is to never give up on your dreams, no matter how hard the going gets.
“I want to inspire the young generation to do what they are really passionate about, chase their dreams, especially when there are so many talented youngsters out there. Nowadays, social media really helps to market yourself as well. Keep on creating what you love and share it, and I’m sure, one day you will be noticed,” he adds.
As for future plans, Sony plans on exhibiting his works in the public sphere by the end of this year and later intends to travel and work with artists across the world to learn and explore their work.