We last checked in with Mumbai-based illustrator and painter Yashasvi Mathis in 2016, unearthing the inspirations and processes for work she was crafting at the start of her career. What’s fascinating is how much Yashasvi has grown and changed her work since then, acquiring a distinct style and finesse in the five years since. “I’d say that my current work reflects on my deep attraction to the dispassionate observation of mind states,” Yashasvi explains to Its Nice That. “I am focusing more on creating worlds rather than the beings that inhabit them at this time.” It’s evident in the works she’s recently released: they’re complex and expansive, tuning more finely into the minutiae of setting and scenery.
“I started drawing when I was four, my first ever muse was a black ant,” she says. “But, I was introduced to illustration as a career choice when I had the chance to make album art for Parekh & Singh in 2013 for their debut album Ocean. I knew then that I had found my calling.” From this project, Yashasvi realised that creating visuals for music was exactly what excited her about the world of illustration. “Illustration seems to be the way I am wired to experience the world and not the other way round,” she explains.
As for what usually constitutes her work, and the style she tries to cultivate, Yashasvi tells us it’s “strange, semi-mystical, and dreamy.” Haunting yet beautiful alien-like figures of the wider universe take on anthropomorphic states and glow against the backdrop of vibrant and mysterious scenery. “It is an ode to the inner worlds and other dimensions beyond the physical that I long to experience.” In general, Yashasvi prefers to create visuals with cues from the known reality, taking them to their most uncanny extreme. What’s left is a limbo-like world of “both familiarity and a lack thereof,” she describes. Colour builds on colour, and reality builds on dreams. “I hope to make art that lets one experience the same thrill of the un-knowing that I do.”
Yashasvi has proven a popular artist to call upon for these kinds of fantastical and next-level visions of many commercial outlets and musical artists. But, Yashasvi is certain to not let a commission affect her overall creative process. “I only visit my desk later when I feel no pressure to create. There is a gushing feeling sometimes when I see a blank canvas,” she says. Yashavi revels in painting and illustrating without inhibition, finding the outlet to be intensely rewarding. “When it is a personal project, I have no prior ideas whatsoever,” she adds. “It is more like the emptying of a brimming bucket rather than any planned implementation of ideas.” Considering how original and innovative Yashasvi’s work appears, it can hardly be a surprise that her final product is often nowhere close to what she intends to create when first approaching the canvas.
As for what’s next for Yashasvi, she says she hopes to continue “interpreting music visually.” We expect big things for her going forward, and she tells us she has dreams of working on projects for her musical inspirations “Toro-y-moi, King Krule, Tei Shi, Jai Paul, Little Dragon and so many more.” We wouldn’t be surprised if this vision comes to fruition, or if Yashasvi’s work makes its way over to the esteemed contemporary art scenes of London or Berlin. “I really hope for that someday,” she tells us.
Yashasvi: Illustration for SOFA Magazine, Issue 2 (Copyright © Yashasvi, April 2017)