#InConversation with Chhering Negi

By Sanjana Srinivasan | Dec 25 2023 · 4 mins

Chhering Negi is a Delhi-based printmaker who through his art, wishes to articulate the human condition both in its joys and sorrows. He is primarily engaged in making portraits as a way to both create and interact with the community around him. Negi sees portraiture as a form of preserving life and revealing the many complexities of a person’s personality, and being. Here, Sanjana speaks to Chhering about his practice.
Sanjana - Hi Chhering! Taking off from your OVR, I would like to begin by asking about your interest in portraiture. Can you tell me when it began? Has your practice since the beginning been figurative and concerned with portraiture? If not, where are you today and how does portraiture fit into your practice?

Chhering - Yes, it’s been something I've studied from the beginning and later it became my subject. My project revolves around the exploration of Woodcut, Lithography and Etching as a technique. My fascination for the medium coerces me to improve the working procedure. I am eager to explore the surface and new modes of transferring images. Their portraits reflect a certain dignity and a maturity that only comes with experience. Their zest of life is encapsulated with the elements surrounding their own portraits; hinting to nature's own definition.
Sanjana - How does where you come from affect your practice? I know your hometown is in Himachal and that you have a studio in Delhi. But your subjects are almost always that of friends or of people you know back home. What about this life back home draws you to it? And what are you trying to showcase through your practice?

Chhering - I wish to narrate these realities in my attempt to understand what shapes a human and follow their individual journeys with their unique stories. This ranges from the ordinary to the wild, from the mundane to the theatrics of existence. One could be a banker whilst the other a horticulturalist. One could be old, the other too young to speak. The fascination with the ordinary struggles, which lead to a strong and bold outlook to life is what these compositions portray.

Tomorrow is a Long Time - III, 2019

Rear Window - XI, 2019

Sanjana - Speaking about portraits, you specifically create a lot of artworks with women and female figures in them. Can you tell me more about this inclination?

Chhering - The relationship between these women is also similar to the relationship defined by the interactions between different beings. Humans often appear to be a reflection of their surrounding landscapes; and so they are depicted in their respective environs.This is perhaps a wake up call, to make aware and to rise to the occasion, lest it becomes irreversible.
Sanjana - Another thing about largely where you come from is Buddhist and Tibetan art and culture of the region. How was it growing up with these influences and how and why does it come into your practice? Are they decorative? Are they symbolic? Tell me more about these traditions that you draw from and why.

Chhering - As someone coming from and growing up with Buddhist and Tibetan art and culture of the region, it doesn’t just influence me but also has given me a way of understanding art. I studied art in college as others do but while learning and exploring printmaking I never use these motifs and symbols. After completing my master's and when I started working in Delhi and got my first Lalit Kala Garhi fellowship, I tried these Tibetan art  symbols and motifs. The reading and understanding of the many mythologies belonging to the Buddhist tradition also helped find expression in the incorporation of cultural symbols in my works as there is a patterned depiction of motifs and symbols of the Thangka art.

Rear Window - XII, 2020

Rear Window - XV, 2020

Sanjana - One particular thing about your works is that they have a lot of repetitive elements in them - whatever element you choose to draw from - it's constantly repeated. Like the cacti!

Chhering - Cacti and flowers depict the duality and struggle in living, leading to an idea of balance. Each human being has his/her own circumstances and their own struggles, but whilst combating all issues, they arrive at their own solution and make their own eco-system.
Sanjana - Tell me more about your compositions and the way you compose your artworks - particularly in front of windows.

Chhering - Each composition captures the essence of the being represented. It becomes a template of storytelling. A reminder that in the ordinary there are nuances of the extraordinary efforts made to sustain in this big wide world. The constant desire to attain balance and the uniqueness of each struggle of each individual, no matter where she/he is placed, are the governing theme to this work.
Sanjana - Tell me about your use of colour. You hardly use colour and keep to black and white prints.

Chhering - In my woodcuts, I deliberately stick to black and white, so as to appear as unfolding of pages of a collective book. The size of the page and its format is uniformed. It could also be seen as peeking into the windows of so many people who could be living in the same building, the same city and yet, appreciative of their different struggles and obstacles.

Rear Window - XVII, 2020

Sanjana - Can you speak a little bit about your process and the methods of woodcut, lithographs, etching etc. What is the process of creating a piece and how is or is it challenging - in terms of the material?

Chhering - About the process and methods of woodcut, lithographs and etching it always requires a proper studio space and equipment. Woodcut can be done relatively easily but for lithograph and etching it’s always difficult to do. As I am working in Lalit Kala artist's studio in Delhi, it helps me to continue my journey in printmaking. Nowadays printmaking materials are very rare to find, we have to use alternative materials mostly.
Sanjana - Where are you currently heading in terms of your practice? And lastly, who are the artists who inspire you?

Chhering - In terms of my practice, I'm still learning and finding my way in this art world. I am inspired by the works of Frida Kahlo and Anupam Sud.

Click here to view Chhering's Online Viewing Room and learn more about his practice.