#InConversation with Vernika Singh

By Sanjana Srinivasan | Nov 9 2023 · 5 mins

Vernika Singh is a Delhi-based abstract artist who engages with the variety of ways colour responds to surfaces, the distinct qualities of acrylic and oil, and the effects created via a paint brush or spray gun. Her experiments go beyond the boundaries of colour to create visual sensations and open-ended experiences for the viewer. Here, Sanjana speaks to Vernika about her practice.
Sanjana - Hi Vernika! Let’s begin with your artistic journey and how you became a self-taught artist. What inspired you to start creating art? 

Vernika - Since childhood, I have been colouring and sketching. There was an aunt of mine who used to paint in oils. She was newly married into our family and I was one of those clingy kids! I used to love watching her paint. In fact, she is the one who handed over two of her used canvases to me and I painted over those. This was in 2010–11  when I started with canvases. I was pursuing my engineering at that time but I was always painting. I even started showing my works around at the time. It was later, after college, that I started professionally.
Sanjana - That's lovely! Your paintings often evoke a sense of nature and the elements. What draws you to these themes, and how do they influence your work?  

Vernika - Yes, there's an element that is the ocean but it's got less to do with nature and is more about people. There are people, there are stories and then there's the environment. I experienced the most passionate time of my life when I was around the ocean. I think being in that environment made it relevant. 

Colours of the Sea, 2017

Untitled, 2022

Sanjana - Can you describe your creative process? How do you decide on the colours, textures, and shapes in your abstract paintings? 

Vernika - I'm very clear on the colours. Nowadays I’m working with a lot of shades of blue. The painting process, on the other hand, is spontaneous. And I do not decide on the shapes but there is a lot of experimentation with the textures like how different pigments interact when used over one another in varying mediums and densities. It depends mostly on the chemical compositions of the paints. I have better control over the textures now.
Sanjana - Speaking of people, I remember you describing your art as “a transfer of personal experiences and memories” onto the canvas. Could you share a specific incident or conversation that has deeply influenced one of your recent works? How do you see your personal experiences being conveyed through your art?  

Vernika - It's not very easy for me to talk about my personal experiences from which the works are inspired and maybe that’s the reason I use abstraction. I use abstraction as a  shield so that I don’t really have to talk about it. My separation from my home was something that I had a hard time adjusting to. Till today I look for that sense of  belonging and it is one such incident that has influenced many of my works.  

On the canvas, there is a sense of the feelings that I've been through. The feelings are  part of my personal experiences. I use colours to communicate how I feel—a pale  blue is about sadness, a darker one about passion. Oftentimes it is the hand  movements and the force/the action and how one uses it that conveys one’s feelings. It’s the same with me. It's like you are mapping your feelings—whatever you are in that moment is getting recorded on that piece of canvas.

Trying to See Beyond the Clouds, 2017

Where it Melts, 2018

Sanjana - Can you walk us through the emotional journey you go through while  working on a painting? How do you express and capture your feelings in your art?

Vernika - It’s a rollercoaster ride when I'm in my zone. To get there, I listen to music. I write at times. I revisit older photographs. This is emotionally very challenging because you are revisiting memories—some that you might not have come to terms with, some that still bother you. I just let it all come to me once again and use the materials. Sometimes it’s the way the paint is thrown over the canvas. Other times, it could be the spray trying to mask what is under those layers. It does not happen in a very direct way but it does leave the gist of my entire thought process on that piece of canvas. 
Sanjana - Many artists have a favourite medium or technique. What do you enjoy most about using your hands, brushes, and spray paint in your art? 

Vernika - I don’t have a favourite medium or technique as such. Being self taught has its freedoms and its limitations as well. I knew little and that’s what I began with. It was always about what I had available at hand. If had a moment where I just  I wanted to draw something, I’d just do it with a pen. But I do work with a lot of  mediums. I sketch and paint and do sculptures as well. It’s always been more about what I have to say than sticking with a particular medium. 

Having said that, I am currently working mostly with oils, acrylics, and pneumatic  spray guns. Though I try to cover my hands with gloves at times, it just doesn’t last  long and every time I end up getting my hands involved! I think that’s the beauty of it—that sense of touch is what I like the most. A lot of artists could be working with the same mediums that I am using but it  depends on the person who is involved in the process to bring uniqueness to it. 

Flakes, 2017

Waves 4, 2023

Sanjana - Abstract art often allows viewers to interpret the artwork in their own way. What do you hope people feel or take away from your paintings when they see them?  

Vernika - If viewers find themselves somewhere in my works, that would be nice.  

Sanjana - What other artists, if any, have had a significant influence on your work? Are there any art movements or styles that you particularly admire or draw inspiration from?  

Vernika - Abstraction has always been my favourite. I like Jackson Pollock's drip  paintings, Yayoi Kusama’s infinity nets. And I recently got to know about another one of Terrain.art’s artists—Kodanda. I like his works a lot. I mean there's such good art and artists around us. I'm inspired by them all.
Sanjana - From your studio overlooking Delhi roads, how does the environment and your surroundings influence your art? Are there particular aspects of the city that inspire your work?  

Vernika - I always relate to the chaos but there's a quietness inside the studio. It's like you can see everything outside but a mute button has been pressed. You can see everything but you can't hear everything. Surprisingly enough at nights, when a fast car goes by, even that can be heard. There's numbness during the days but nights! It's so crazy how the same place just transforms. I have loved my evenings and nights in Delhi and they inspire me to paint.   

Muddy Ice, 2017

Untitled, 2021

Sanjana - That’s amazing! So, Vernika, before I let you go, how do you see your art evolving in the future? Are there any new themes, techniques, or projects that you're excited to explore in your upcoming work?  

Vernika - There is something that I really want to do—taking myself as a subject. I want to experiment with the technique of layering with black and black. I want to be doing some nudes also which could be different from the continuous streak of abstracts that I’m on. 

Sanjana - Thank you Vernika!

Click here to learn more about Vernika's practice.