Meet Dr Ashwin Vijaykumar Pillai, otherwise known as Ashvin (with a V) in the art world. He is a general practitioner (MBBS) and has recently completed his diploma in Family Medicine.
You may have seen some of his artwork at the Abu Dhabi Art Hub, and you may have seen him on the fashion ramp too. He is also the brain power behind Freaky Bunny – a concept of wearable art, hand painted on branded T-shirts. The ultimate goal of Freaky Bunny? “To take the world by storm!”
Ashvin is my first shred of evidence beyond myself in the UAE (living evidence apart from the likes of Leonardo da Vinci and many others) that science and art can exist and do exist in one person. It was a random first meeting at ArtDubai some years ago. At that time, I was looking for scientists and doctors who were artistic and living in the UAE, but my decade long search proved to be futile. Till Ashvin appeared on the scene. Since then, I’ve bumped into quite a few people from the healthcare field who are also artists.
Enjoy the ‘interview.’
Has art always been a part of your life since childhood? If yes, did you paint as a kid?
Art has been an integral part of my childhood. My parents were always very supportive of my ventures. I remember my Mother teaching me the various aspects of watercolour wash and techniques when I was a kid. (She is an artist herself).
What do you believe about science/medicine and arts? is it possible to get a balance?
Life is all about maintaining balance. If you look at the intricate structure of the human body, you will believe that it’s quite artistic. Talk about chemical structures, the physiological processes; everything has a beauty element to it. These can be incorporated into art quite effortlessly. In fact it has been recently found that many of Leonardo Da Vinci’s landscapes were actually human anatomy figures cleverly disguised. This is just one aspect of combining science and arts. I’m sure there are many ways where art can be involved in medicine; art therapy for example.
Can you give a live example where art saved your life before working with a patient etc.
My professional life, as it is for any other doctor, is filled with sorrow, pain and suffering both physical and mental. You wouldn’t meet a doctor if you were well would you? These act as a negative influence on the psyche and I often feel drained. Painting, even though it’s a passion, helps me throw away all the stress and negativity. When I sit with my paints and canvas, I’m taken away to a different world. I don’t hear any sound; I don’t see anything other than the paints, almost a trance like state. And I guess me remaining sane is probably saving the life of my patients daily.
When people know you are a doctor and an artist, do they balk at the idea and refuse to believe that you can be both?
It’s not that they refuse to believe, but they are quite astonished that I find the time for pursuing my interests.
You’ve done a modeling gig – what prompted that? So you are an artist and a model?
My good friend Zareen Khan was auditioning for the fashion event. She is the one who prompted me into modeling. In fact she took me in without even an audition (I fail to understand why).
I do a lot of things besides art. Modeling is just another adventure that I got into. I don’t know whether I will take it very far though. I am an artist. Period.
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And here questions of type such if honestly strike me not much as I wrote everything higher. It is visible you simply you don’t want to read all this. As my parrot does.