Love for motorcyling can take on so many forms. For new mum, artist, and biker Mallika Prakash, it took on the form of motorcycle art, as she started cruising on the road to a full-fledged career in art.
Mallika designed circuits for tech companies in San Francisco for almost 10 years, all the while practising art in her free time in the evenings and on weekends. Earlier this year, she quit her tech job to devote herself to art. She also recently became a mother and is currently transitioning from San Francisco to Bangalore.
“Being a full time mom and artist have been extremely challenging but I’ve managed to create a new body of work. This last month, I challenged myself to a painting a day and ended up with over 20 motorcycle paintings called Repost, inspired by the motorcycling community on Instagram,” says Mallika. She bought her bike in 2011 in San Francisco — a black Honda Rebel 250cc cruiser. Her husband, who is also a motorcyclist, taught her to ride it in a parking lot close to their house. She calls her college days at Manipal as “motorcyclist heaven.”
“It has turned into a multi-faceted project since I started it. It is crowd sourced, community minded and is digital and manual at the same time. Each painting is tagged with the original poster’s insta handle, just like a repost,” she explains. Mallika talks passionately about the tight-knit biking community that she found to be extremely generous and open hearted. Pretty much every biker she asked permission from, said yes with enthusiasm. She starts with photographs from bikers with real biking stories and experiences. “My art process starts with a digital deconstruction of the source image into simple shapes and fields of colour. It is then hand painted on canvas in acrylic,” she explains her process. To become an established motorcycle themed artist is my goal, she stresses.
As with most motorcyclists, whose love affair with bikes start because someone in the family has a similar passion, for Mallika it was because her father was an ardent motorcyclist; he owned a Yezdi. “Its fuel tank was my ride to school every morning. And every evening I would wait by the window for its distinct thump signalling the return of my father. Being able to ride a motorcycle was always one of my dreams and while I waited for it to become a reality, I satisfied myself by drawing and painting them,” adds Mallika nostalgically. “My father was very particular about us growing up to be financially independent so I studied computer engineering even though I wanted to go to art school.”
Mallika draws inspiration from her mother who had her own craft show on Doordarshan, sang jingles on All India Radio, made fancy day costumes from scratch for Mallika and her two sisters, and stitched and knitted for them.
“She introduced me to a wide variety of creative activities and with time I found myself enjoying painting the most. It also helped that I had a very encouraging art teacher in school who gave me a lot of opportunity to participate in art competitions and taught me to think independently and freely,” she adds. “Motorcycle art is a way for me to channel both my mother and father who have been extremely supportive and encouraging,” she concludes.
Her art will be on show at Moto Store & Cafe, Ulsoor, from August 18 to 27. The entire series is available on her Instagram account as it happened @mallikamotoart.