Vaishali Prazmari is an artist incorporating Persian, Indian and Chinese elements into her work. This cultural richness has a historical tradition dating back to the Silk Road and it is epitomized in Islamic, Safavid Persian and Mughal Indian miniature paintings. She integrates both the ancient and the modern in her own works and brings traditional miniature painting to life for a wider audience through her various roles as as artist, educator and curator: www.vaishaliprazmari.co.uk Born in London, she has lived on an island in Hong Kong, Paris, and she currently lives and works in London.
Vaishali holds degrees from both the Slade School of Fine Art and the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts and holds an MA in Medieval and Renaissance Studies (UCL) specializing in floating islands. She studied Persian and Indian miniature painting during her MA at PSTA and Chinese painting under a master in Hong Kong. She is working towards a PhD involving miniature painting and the 1001 Arabian Nights. Having studied the traditions of the historic major miniature painting centres as well as today's contemporary art she is uniquely placed to offer these original courses blending the best of the ancient and the modern.
And this is the longer version from my artist website:
ABOUT VAISHALI PRAZMARI
EAST AND WEST & ANCIENT AND MODERN
Geography - Space
As a child I used to think all islands floated, bobbing along in the sea and remaining in more or less the same place because they wanted to - the childlike worldview can only be self-centred. Older, I understood that all islands are mountaintops connected deeply within the old earth, standing firm in the sea with only their peaks visibly hinting at hidden depths beneath. Later even this illusion was shattered; zooming out further these lands are fragments of the slow-moving earth crust, itself floating over unstable molten lava, and finally, further still, we are a tiny planet floating in deep space. A story within a story within a story, like the Arabian Nights. The constant shattering of illusions to finally surrendering to the comforting mystery of never being able to know everything. My childhood in Hong Kong was a mixture of Blade Runner east and west, night and day, ancient and modern and growing up island-hopping formed an early blueprint metaphor for my life.
History - Biography
Having Chinese, Indian with Persian ancestry and living in London is like having a gold mine, a diamond mine and a silver mine within a cave of wonders from which to pick and choose the various elements which make up a piece. It extends beyond paint and the painting's frame to create dialogues with other harmonious materials. This cultural richness has a historical tradition dating back to the Silk Road and it is epitomized in Islamic miniature paintings, which embody a fineness of line from China and vibrancy of colours and pigments from India and Central Asia to be synthesized into beautiful miniatures in the royal courts of Safavid Persia and the Moghul Empire, which in turn influenced and was influenced by the equal magnificence of Renaissance Europe. No art is made in isolation yet all artworks are islands that stand alone within their own archipelagoes. I see myself as a part of a continuum in this tradition of incorporating elements in a contemporary way from various cultures by which I am inspired on my own travels as well as the privilege of living in London, a city where if one is tired then they are tired of life (I am not tired!).
Synthesis - Time
All men are islands, thus are unique yet connected primordially, and building bridges between them does not threaten their inherent traditions. Tradition can coexist peacefully alongside modernity and I feel it is something worth repeating today; it also serves as the grit in the oyster shell that produces my work. Taking the master tea blender as a model I carefully select different yet naturally sympathetic elements to create new blends. The slow application of paint in layers can be likened to the constant blending of cultures over time where these elements become crystallized and localized. Truth settles into fiction the way that myths become consolidated into a culture over centuries and the earth erodes and builds up map contour lines over millenia. Unique content is created via a process of layering and crystallization. What was once contemporary becomes traditional. All that is solid melts into air. How many years does this take? I find the best vehicle for this transmission is paint, which naturally lends itself to blending separate colours to create unusual fabulous new ones. The apparent simplicity of painting disguises the breathtaking alchemy of creating something rich and strange from the humblest of materials. Paint is coloured mud. The process of blending is a form of meditation. A pleasureable, repetitive and relaxing activity. I believe art should be a mix of the sensuous and intellectual, a harmonious blend of both intelligences that speaks to both the head and the heart.
And now, in answer to my own questions:
What initially sparked your interest in miniature painting?
The short answer: I have always known about miniature painting 'in the background' throughout my childhood but never took it seriously. Then in my last days at the Slade on my BA I came across The Court of Gayumars (Keyumars) in the UCL Library and my mind was blown. Such rich and fresh colours could only come from contemporary art - and this was 500 years old. I was hooked and it lead to years of miniature painting and research and even making copies of that painting a whole life and attitude change - the arts of the east are as rich as the arts of the west.
Currently pursing my love of miniature painting by incorporating it into my practice-led PhD at the Slade in the 1001 Nights and painting, researching, teaching and hopefully spreading the love worldwide via this forum!
Where do you hope to go?
I hope that miniature painting reaches the same status as oil painting in the west. I hope that art lovers worldwide appreciate the arts of the east; I hope that in time the ideas behind the arts of the east percolate through to the arts of the west, and the north and the south, since actually it's all a continuum and distinctions are sometimes meaningless; I hope that by the act of making and loving art today and zooming out to see the connections between all things we can create more understanding between cultures; I hope through osmosis this filters into wider society to make racism and inequality extinct and I hope my work in the various guises it takes goes some small way towards achieving that.
Look forward to hearing about other people's journeys into, through and beyond miniature painting!