Samir Maharjan grew up with art and colors. Having lived the early years of his life in Patan, Lalitpur, he was surrounded by art in all forms – the intricacies of the mandalas, the burst of colors of the painted masks, and the spiraling religious structures. Taken by all this and his own inclination for arts, he drew sketches and spent hours mulling over how he could make them stand out. “I loved drawing, but I always wanted them to be more than just lines and smudges on paper. Even then I would spend many hours trying to make my work more expressive and more vibrant,” he recalls.
So, very early on in life, he decided that he would become an artist. And promptly after high school, he joined the Kathmandu University School of Arts. By then he had discovered the digital arts and loved how it opened up a whole different world to him. He could do the absurd, fun, weird, subtle, simple, almost everything here and the byproduct of all combination of tools available to him would make every piece he ever worked wholly different from both the previous and the next. It was all about combining, experimenting, and working with the queerest of ideas. He loved all of it.
For reasons of his own, Samir eventually dropped out of art school and decided that he would try something new. If he wished to be the artist he dreamed of becoming, he knew he would have to challenge himself and not limit himself to just one thing. So he went to India and took up fashion photography. “I loved taking photos as much as I loved doing art so I decided I’d learn about it too.
Fashion photography somehow appealed to me. Maybe it was the drama lover in me,” he says.
It was so that he began taking photographs and digitally manipulated them. He worked on his own gaming laptop and used adobe photoshop and illustrator. Because he had learnt about graphic designing and was used to digital arts, he knew what to do and how to do it. So he played with patterns and colors and made his pictures as they appealed to him.
Samir never really knows what his pictures will end up looking like. He begins with a frame, puts in patterns where he likes, adds in colors where he thinks they are needed and repeats this process over and over until he feels like the work is done. He never knows how long a certain piece will take him, what shades of colors he ought to use and even what proportions to use for objects in his works. Once he begins, he just follows his intuition. “I just know when a work is done. I work for hours on a piece, sometimes even for days and I keep making tweaks until it feels complete,” he says adding that there is no hard and fast rule to his work.
Samir often uses his photographs for his work while sometimes he just makes his works from scratch. He takes photos of everyday life, of an elderly person climbing a flight of stairs, a passerby observing his surroundings, or just a shot of a rooftop with a hint of the sky. He also works with portrait shots of people, but he hardly, if ever, focuses on the face, it is the shape and the silhouette he is concerned with. What he does with each picture is different than what he does with the next. And, he says, that’s the thrill of his work.
To an observer, his works are loud, ambiguous, and vibrant. And that is exactly what he wishes them to be, so that each observer sees and interprets his pictures differently. That is what art is for after all, he says, to mean what each person wishes it to. “There is no confining it within a certain framework,” he adds.
Samir does this work not just as a hobby of sorts but also professionally. He put up his personal collection of work in the recently concluded Micro Galleries. He definitely plans to showcase his pieces in future exhibitions as well. He also has some of his pieces listed on Tilicho Kala where they are put up for sale. Samir also takes commissions and makes sure that his own style and the requests of his clients complement each other, without one overpowering the other.
As much as he loves the work he is doing, he loves to share them as well. He shares his illustrations on his Instagram account (@ctrlj977) so that his work is out for all to see and so he can learn and grow from the praise and criticism he receives. On social media, viewers commend him on his attention to details and his blend of colors. His art is hugely contemporary, abstract, and expressionist but it so also much more. “In the end it really varies with interpretation,” he concludes.