Govinder Nazran Biography Continued:
...Once I completed all my formal training I decided to move to London, approaching all of the major city publishers with my portfolio. It was there that I worked on illustrations for children’s books and after 6 months moved to Cambridge where I continued working as a freelance illustrator. Shortly after, I moved back to my home town of Saltaire in West Yorkshire, taking up the position as a designer for a greetings card company where I was also involved in product design and development. Following that, I was involved in directing photo shoots and later became a photographic art director, traveling all over the world, for the next year, on fashion shoots. In 1993 I gave up my photographic job and spent the next five years working freelance on card designs with major publishers.
It wasn’t until 1999 when I decided to enter the fine art market and approached Washington Green with my portfolio. They have since published over 40 of my designs and are currently developing some of my art into sculpture.
IDEAS & INSPIRATIONS
“If you don’t want anybody to know anything about you – don’t write a song!” I can’t remember where I heard this quote but it serves well to explain how one’s personality is revealed through a song, or in my case, a painting. I’m naturally a shy person and find it difficult to articulate my thoughts verbally. When I’m put on the spot and asked to explain my work, I usually end up a gibbering wreck, cursing myself later for my lack of verbal dexterity. My true personality reveals itself through my paintings. Many of my paintings are about good and evil – innocence and malevolence.
When I was a child I remember believing what a wonderful and happy place the world was. I loved to learn about other people in other countries and wanted to visit them all. Of course, I now realize things aren’t quite as I once imagined, and the once distant places where I so wanted to be, are not so far away; they are actually on my doorstep. The world is a place where the innocent pay the heaviest price. It affects me deeply. It’s like living in the garden of ‘Good and Evil’. I can’t ignore it, so I depict it in the form of these innocent pictures.
I leave it to the individual to look at my paintings and choose what they would like to see, innocence or malevolence – the good or the evil! Above all else, I am, and always will be, an eternal optimist. Optimism is one of the greatest gifts we possess. When I think about it, I think of the song ‘Fields of Gold’ by Sting – the lyrics sum it up! These two opposing juxtapositions ultimately explain many of my paintings. Look at the ones which have malevolent titles, mainly the evil cats. To me they are representations of evil. However, at first glance, the impression they exude is optimism. The wide-eyed cats and dogs always look petrified and are representations of the innocents. You can choose to see these paintings any way you like. See love and happiness or death and the Devil, it doesn’t matter so long as you see something and connect with it. You get the most from a painting if it connects with you. When you look at an abstract painting, you can see nothing or you can see it all – it’s either for you or it isn’t! For me this simple philosophy sums up what is art and what is not – you either like it or you don’t! My paintings are from my soul and I hope, honest.
FROM PALETTE TO PICTURE
Before I begin a painting, I start with a very rough preliminary colour sketch, which I may have done weeks or months ago. I keep my sketches along with notes and ideas in dozens of sketchbooks. The books are overstuffed with ragged bits of paper containing ‘those thoughts’ that just pop into your head unannounced at the strangest times.
With the aid of my sketches, I know exactly what I’m going to paint when I’ve pinned up my canvas. It is very spontaneous. I have all my colours pre-determined. I use solid oil bars directly onto canvas, manipulating the paint with my fingers, using no brushes. The paint reacts with the heat from my fingers and the more you work it, the more fluid it becomes. It’s a wonderful and unusual medium to work with.
Composition usually begins life as pure abstract shapes. Flow of line and form, as well as ‘negative shapes’, are important here. I also look for connections between shapes and link them with connecting lines. The balance and harmony of colour pull the whole composition together. The end result is part defined and part abstract.
In my ‘pure’ abstracts I look to nature and emotion, and build on that. From life seen through the window of a speeding car or the blurred reflection of a city seen through bleary eyes, to the depiction of a single moment of intense emotion expressed through layers of paint. It’s a very pure art form.
GOVINDER DIES UNEXPECTEDLY DEC 24, 2008
DURING a tragically short career, Govinder Nazran achieved a remarkable degree of recognition and success. Govinder, who died aged 44 following an accident on Christmas Eve in his home in Saltaire, is best known for paintings and sculptures which feature highly-stylised symbolic images, most commonly of cats, dogs, elephants (depicting love and friendship) and horses which represent passion. Many of his other works have little or no figurative elements, being purely abstract.
In 2004. he became the Best Selling Published Artist in the industry's Fine Art Trade Guild Awards and he enjoyed two sell-out tours in Japan where his work was highly regarded.
Born in Birmingham, he was one of the six children of Kabel, who worked in textiles, and his wife Dhan Kaur. The family moved to Bradford when Govinder was two. He studied graphic design from 1980 to 1983 at Bradford University, then going to Lincoln Art College to do a Higher Diploma in graphic design.
Completing that course with a distinction – as he had also done at Bradford – he went to London where he worked on illustrations for children's books. After six month she moved to Cambridge where he continued to work as a freelance illustrator.
Returning to Bradford, he met Sarah Welton exactly 22 years ago at a popular student night club. They were married in 1992, their daughter Eden being born the following year.
The family settled in Saltaire where Govinder got a job as designer for a greetings card company. He followed that by becoming a photographic art director, directing fashion shoots all over the world. In 1993, he decided to exchange that hectic lifestyle for a quieter life.
He spent the next five years working as freelance on card designs with major publishing companies. Only in 1999 did he decide to enter the fine art market, and approached Washington Green with his portfolio. Govinder's first commercially-successful painting was Cat Walk, prints of which were sold out on release. He would later say that he never looked back.
He applied his paints, from oil bars, with his fingers which he considered the most practical method, given the medium he used.
The method created the characteristic natural blurring effect which, like his monogram appearing in a small box, distinguishes his paintings.
He felt that abstracts were the purest art form, but being asked to explain his work reduced him, he wrote, to a "gibbering wreck, cursing myself later for my lack of verbal dexterity".
He went on: "When I was a child I remember believing what a wonderful and happy place the world was. I loved to learn about other people in other countries and wanted to visit them all. Of course, I now realise things aren't quite as I once imagined, and the once distant places where I so wanted to be are not so far away; they are actually on my doorstep. The people I wanted to meet are locked in a bitter hatred of each other, divided by race or religion.
"The world is a place where the innocent pay the heaviest price. It affects me deeply. It's like living in the garden of Good and Evil. I can't ignore it, so I depict it in the form of these innocent pictures. I leave it to the individual to look at my paintings and choose what they would like to see, innocence or malevolence."
The titles he chose for his works were often intended to provoke amusement. This gentle, unassuming man loved to see viewers of his pictures smiling at them.
He recently told an interviewer that he had a limitless supply of ideas, and was looking forward to exploring the possibilities offered by sculpture and ceramics. If he had "squished" up his life into a little ball – and he suggested an apple was the best analogy – then he had had his first bite, "and it's yummy".
Govinder is survived by Sarah and Eden, his adored wife and daughter – music and his art being the other great loves of his life.