Where I Work: Manish Nai

July 6, 2018

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The artist spoke to us in his Mumbai studio, explaining why he loves the city’s unique buzz – and why great things can come from failed experiments

I work in my studio located in Goregaon East, a suburb of the city of Mumbai, India. It is about 1000 square feet in size and is used for production. I prefer natural light while working and this place gets plenty. More than anything, the studio for me is a mental space.

Like many artists, I used my apartment as a living and studio space to save costs but that’s not the case anymore. My production process involves a lot of heavy materials, labour and noise. For this reason, I needed a separate space of my own and actively started looking two years ago. After a long search, I finally decided on this one since it’s based in a well-connected, semi-industrial area.

I really enjoy the energy and liveliness of Goregaon East. There are so many small industries and I find it most interesting to see how they work. There’s so much activity here, I can barely keep up!

The artist Manish Nai at work in his Mumbai studio, the city has become an inspiration for his artistic practice. Image courtesy of the artist. 

Many artists live and work in Borivali which is about 20 minutes away from where I am. The funny thing about Mumbai is that you can be unaware of other artists, even if they’re 5 minutes away.

Not much has changed since I moved to my studio. In two years, everything has more or less been the same barring a few heavy, capital intensive industries that have shut down or shifted base to some of the northern Indian states like Gujarat.

I get up early and start the day with a hot cup of tea. I’ve gotten into the routine of dropping my son off to the bus stop every day. After this, I usually head home for a quick bite and then to the studio – to work or sometimes just to read.

My work is dependent on a team of carpenters, fabricators and studio assistants. I’ve known most for more than a decade. I typically oversee all stages of the creative process and make sure that I involve everyone in distinct ways.

Nai is known for his use of old things: clothes, newspapers and the like. Image courtesy of the artist.

I just finished working on a piece for a group show, opening at the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art in Singapore on the 21st of July. I am also excited for another solo show of mine which will travel to the Noordbrabrants Museum in The Netherlands and showcase a diverse range of works from the last decade.

Trust me when I tell you this, there is no magic in the studio, most of the experiments actually fail! However, I believe that failures often lead to good things. One only needs to work consistently and even though rewards are rare, the process itself is very exciting! I have been a practising artist for 18 years now.

I believe one gets to know where they belong only after they have lived somewhere for a while. So I think I’ll stick around for a bit!

Manish Nai was born in 1980 in Gujarat and lives and works in Mumbai.

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