Art inspired by the mundane and the spiritual: Rohan Chaurasia
A creative artist inspired by the spiritual aspect of the everyday objects that surround us in our daily life, Rohan’s body of artwork is an eclectic blend of various mediums. Exploring themes of mundanity and animism, he attempts to investigate how familiar objects can possess unapparent meanings. Taking an organic approach and building up ideas as he goes, he remains open to any new revelations that may emerge along the way.
Rohan has always been interested in drawing and making images. He initially chose to study graphic design at university as he liked how it can exist at varying scales, across different forms of media. Growing up in Bangkok, he recalls being curious about “designed” surfaces, observing how images would shape urban environments. He’d also notice how the new would live alongside the old, thinking about the spiritual qualities in ancient structures could also apply to ones in the present day.
In his craft, Rohan often combines digital tools with analog processes like drawing, airbrushing, and collage. He is intrigued by how airbrushing produces an aesthetic that feels enigmatic, almost like a whisper. This technique has a nostalgic element to it, as it reminds him of the “blow pens” he used to use as a child.
In his research, beyond looking into academic sources, Rohan is interested in drawing inspiration from the lived experience. With an emphasis on spontaneity, several of the artist’s references stem from things he photographs in passing.
One of Rohan’s earlier forays into the juxtaposition of the spiritual and the mundane culminated in a series of sculptures titled Dvarapalas. The title takes its name from dvarapala, (‘door guard’ in Sanskrit) referring to door/gate guardians that take on the sculptural form of a warrior giants or animals. Diverse forms of these can be seen protecting sacred spaces in Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain cultures. Rohan’s sculptures applied the ancient idea of a spiritual protector, to a contemporary context, by creating door guardians for places frequented by the average person on their way about daily life. A cat sleeping on the threshold of the local convenience store became the self-appointed protector of the space, as did the animated mascot of the local ATM machine. The sculptures were constructed with paper pulp and foam, with their surface treated with airbrushing and collage.
His latest project, titled Waiting Room, explores ideas of transience and animism, depicting everyday plastic chairs/stools in surreal imagined spaces. To quote “I’m particularly inspired by moments of quietude in Bangkok, that coexist within the frenetic pace of the city. I also think about spiritual forces that aren’t necessarily bound to sites of worship (like spirit houses, or temples), but can be found everywhere”. The ongoing series of paintings fuse photography, digital painting, collage, and airbrushing.
Looking ahead, Rohan plans to push his work further, through continued research, practice, and experimentation. He notes he lately has “become more comfortable with the idea of slowing down, and being open to projects taking new, unexpected directions.”
Rohan Chaurasia is an emerging artist and designer, currently based in Bangkok.
An alumnus of the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design, USA, where he received a BFA (Hons) in Graphic Design, Rohan has worked as a designer for Pentagram, New York, the world’s largest independent design agency, and is currently working for Farmgroup, a design studio in Bangkok.
His work spans visual identity, web design, art direction, and illustration. His clients include Esprit, NewView Capital, Shay Galla, Jono Cheong, Sophie Wang, Dime, Michelle Smith, the American Institute of Architects, Purra, Rajdamri Gems and the School of Visual Arts.
His work has been featured in high profile locations – from New York’s Javits Center, where some 20,000 visitors passed through a welcome area that he designed; to New York Fashion Week, where his logo for Shay Galla was modelled on the runway; to New York gallery Chinatown Soup, where he exhibited a video artwork.
His work for Mike Ruiz-Serra’s brand Pulp has earned press from The New York Times, Sight Unseen and Milk. Rohan has also been the subject of features in The Design Kids and Vo1SS. Projects bearing his designs have also been featured in AIGA Eye on Design, Masala Thai, and It’s Nice That.
You can find a selection of Rohan’s work on his website rohanchau.com
IG: @_rchau [email protected] 081-161-2295