Art: Interview with artist/exhibition organiser Tashi Khan

With her Exotic Blend 4 group exhibition fast approaching at the Chelsea Gallery on November 26th, Tashi Khan shares her creative insights and artistic inspirations.

How did your creative journey as an artist begin?

As far as I can remember I have been surrounded by artists, poets, musicians and people of every creative nature. I was born in a family where artists and poets came and stayed with us for weeks and months on end. I watched them spellbound, with their brushes and pallets. I was also used to the company of filmmakers, writers, recitalists and various other creatives. Growing up in India, I wished to attend a well thought of art school in Paris as a teenager but my parent’s restrictions did not allow this. I majored in Psychology at college; my second major was Fine Arts. I participated in a college art fair and to my surprise and excitement all my work sold out! During this time I happily painted for family, friends and children’s schools. I was skilled in replicating comic book images and stories and enjoyed this process immensely. 

After moving to the big city of Delhi, I didn’t paint for around 20 years but I dabbled in designing clothes for magazines and writing fashion and beauty articles. I was also interior designing houses and apartments. After getting married I moved to London.  London in the beginning was challenging and demanding transition as I had just given birth within a couple of months of arriving. I had a new born plus a whole new life in a place where I was not familiar and did not have any family or friends. I had to adjust quickly and took on responsibilities that I hadn’t known previously. My family grew up privileged in India, so all house work and responsibilities was a slight shock to my system at the time. Eventually as time passed I started to do commission based art work for individuals and companies.

One day I realised that I was not expressing myself artistically in the way that I truly should be because I was creating for others. From then on I started creating my own paintings! Through my hectic lifestyle I didn’t have enough time to dedicate to my art due to all my other responsibilities and commitments. Amongst all my daily activities and busy schedule, I rushing to work and an incident occurred that day that changed my life. It was essentially the beginning of my art journey. The rest is basically history! 

Do you feel you have developed your own aesthetic style over the years and how would you describe it? 

I would definitely describe myself as abstract, modern, contemporary but my mood changes from one style to another, though I prefer the more abstract genre of art. I would also label some of my artistic styles as hexagonal and cubic. Picasso is my inspiration and I love his style of work. People tend to see a hint of Picasso in my art but I think I have my own style though I am genuinely proud to be mentioned in the same breath as him.

Do you have any art influences? Are they responsible for this style?

Yes and no!! I am extremely captivated by Picasso, Miro and Dali but I definitely feel that my style is my own. People see the reflection of Picasso in my work but my subconscious mind influences me, and my dreams create my art pieces.

When did you start organising art exhibitions and what triggered your interest here?

In 2006 I had a life changing accident. Whilst on the way to work I fell down the stairs at a well-known London Underground station and broke my ankle. My injury was very severe so I was wheelchair bound for 7-8 months. My ankle was operated on and bolts and metal plates were placed inside it.  I am naturally an active person and this accident changed my life in so many ways. As I was housebound and unable to move without assistance for around 8 months I was extremely bored as you can imagine!

Even though my friends and family visited me frequently but most of the time I couldn’t do much at all as I was immobile. My daughter Neeley Lara Gail felt my stress and started to bring home sketch pads, colours, canvasses to occupy me. Though she was only 16 years old at the time she was very considerate and attentive. Therefore out of boredom I painted almost continuously for around 8 months and accumulated a large collection during this time. It was therapeutic and definitely a well-articulated outlet for me.

After this period of time passed and I slowly became able stand and walk unattended, I gradually worked towards my focusing on myself and my artistic passion. I did have some upcoming dates booked in the local Hornchurch theatre. My time yet again became limited due to my working schedule, focusing on my children and also finding the energy to socialise with my friends. 

Queens’s theatre is essentially how my first show came into existence! It was a great opportunity and so onwards I wanted to display in galleries but not many art galleries take on unknown artists. So I booked alternative workspaces and galleries over two years and spent around £10K. Very soon after this I started to have offers from London galleries, art fairs and various curators. In 2010 I had an offer to be in a printed art book alongside a 4 month display based in Nevada museum of fine Arts.

In 2012 my family and I were in an almost fatal car accident. I had to be cut out of the car by ambulance services, I was screaming in pain as my leg was stuck under the seat of the car. I was again wheelchair bound for months; nurses had to visit me at home 4-5 times a week to tend to my injuries. Although my legs have never actually fully recovered from these incidents when I was eventually able to walk again I went on a quest looking for alternative spaces. I found some quirky and fab spaces in London. I had an idea, and I wanted to implement it. I realised that if I help other upcoming artists and we share the spaces with cost-effective shows, I can essentially promote them and also save on expenses. After searching for enthusiastic, diverse and imaginative artists I formed a group. We did our first collective show in Camberwell. That was the beginning of our collective movement.

The Exotic Blend 4 group exhibition is at the Chelsea Gallery, Kings Rd, London from Nov 26 – Dec 2

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