INTERVIEW WITH KHALIL CHISHTEE
Khalil Chishtee is a Pakistan artist who works with waste materials to create his incredible sculptures. The works made with plastic bags are among the best known both for the strong emotional charge that the figures manage to convey and for the strength of the ecological message that it suggests.
Website: https: //www.khalilchishtee.com
The first question I think is a bit mandatory. When and how did you decide to use plastic bags to make your works?
My interest towards discarded, thrown away or leftover objects/material led me towards recycling and then I discovered the use of plastic bags.
At a very younger age, when others were working hard to win the hearts of friends by whom they were dumped, I started my affection towards anyone or anything that was not accepted by the mainstream. So that’s why my quest was not just as an artist trying to look for some nonconventional (materials) to make art, it was more like finding a hope for the one’s that has been rejected.
I read in your interviews that you don't use adhesive but that you work bags like clay. How does it technically work?
I strongly believe that as an artist when you start giving respect to any material then it starts opening itself up to you. I don’t use any other material or armature as a support or any adhesive to join it. By just tying knots, I make it dense enough that it starts taking any form, and then little heat of hair dryer does the magic.
The material you use certainly makes think, in an age of consumption and struggles for the environment do you believe that your art can also awaken the collective consciousness and transform the situation in this regard?
I strongly believe that change starts from individuals. You are right, in a way, I am a part of collective consciousness and intention does matte; but I don’t think that my art or as a matter of fact, any artform has enough power to transform the entire world but, on the other hand if I am changed then the whole world would change.
In one of your statements, you said that you like to explore all styles and genre. What genre do you feel you want to explore in this period?
This is a different time for all of us, especially for people like us who live in one of the most hardly hit area during this pandemic. I am defiantly digging more deeper into the quest of existence.
What differences do you see in the American art scene compared to the Pakistan's?
We live in the world of social media and because of the internet, information about anything and everything is just a click away. Art scene of Pakistan is very similar to USA, only scale is different; one is much larger than the other. In Pakistan surviving as an artist is much easier than America.
Any advice that you would give to a young artist and that you would like to have had at the beginning of your career?
Art making is as important as any other work. Now if we looked at the world where most of cities are locked down, we can easily see the importance of art, movies, music, books etc. Your work is as important as the work of any doctor saving people’s life. To me art is the soul of any society and artist is the one who save it from dying.
Do you use different materials and techniques in your works but is there something in common?
Like I said before, I use materials which has not any monetary value or very cheap to buy then I record my precious ideas in it, in a way I turn “trash into treasures”, but if I am using any material which is expensive then it’s very important for the content of my work. For instance, most of my calligraphic work which is done in metal I am questioning the relationship of form and content with material.
What are the future goals and projects you have in mind?
All future goals are at a pause at the moment. Right now, the most important goal is to stay positive and spread positive vibes everywhere, but when the lockdown is over and world is back to normal then show my work in Italy and rest of the Europe.