Dreamy, brightly coloured and whimsically styled, there is no mistaking a piece of Svabhu Kohli’s artwork. His stylised illustrations of flora and fauna offer a glimpse into the mind of a truly imaginative artist - you get the feeling when looking at a piece of his art, that he wants to ignite a sense of wonder in our world. Each work combines colours, bold graphics, and intricate designs to capture the planet’s beauty and splendour, encouraging the viewer to appreciate everything it does for us and the magic that is the natural world.
Fantasy is at play in each of his pieces, bringing together multiple ecosystems with characterful creatures to create an effect that is breathtaking to look at - there is not a single piece that is not a visual feast: something you could happily spend hours gazing at.
What is perhaps most striking about this style is that, on first glance, the pieces appear simple - shapes take an almost cartoon-like form and silhouettes are rounded out. But upon closer inspection, there is actually a tremendous amount of detail - as much is created digitally as it is by hand. This serves up an accumulative sense of gratification - each time the spectator comes back to a piece, there is something new to be discovered. Much like in nature itself: our world is constantly growing, shifting and changing and no view looked at twice is ever the same.
A childhood spent daydreaming
Born and raised in India, Svabhu spent much of his time at school daydreaming about the world outside and jotting down sketches in any free time that he had. Given his creative tendencies the Indian school system, by his own admission, did little to support or encourage his artistic endeavours. Perhaps this is why his art has remained so inquisitive and visually appealing: it’s a way to preserve the child-like wonder of his surroundings that many of us lose as we reach adulthood.
Inspired by nature
Sitting at the desk in his studio in Goa, Svabhu is able to take in much of the lush, paradisiacal scenery that inspires his drawings from his spot by the window. He works with hand sketches and digital graphics. He has been known to spend much of his time out in nature, observing and capturing it in all its abundant glory. This is visually represented in his regular use of borders, giving the viewer a ‘window’ into the natural world.
Ocean creatures such as whales, sea turtles and seals feature heavily throughout his work, as does the interaction between land and water. As there’s so much that could easily be missed at first glance, most of his exhibited work is accompanied by a vignette, giving an insight into the thought processes behind the piece and what each layer of detail represents.
One of Svabhu’s most recent works was an installation of his Ocean piece, which was wrapped around the glass cube entrance of the London EDITION Hotel in honour of 2019’s Earth Week. The piece used a sustainable alternative to vinyl known as polypropylene film - a material that is both PVC free and can be fully recycled. Both a deliberate stance against single use plastic and a rallying cry to do more for our home.
Rediscover a love for the planet
What makes his art so significant to the global environment movement is that it reignites one’s passion and love for nature - it’s impossible to look at one of his pieces without acknowledging what a marvel our natural world actually is; something that can be difficult to conjure during our commute to work in the city when all we want is a takeaway coffee. It’s this gift - helping us rediscover our love for the planet - that is the true magic behind Svabhu Kohli’s enchanting art.
Words: Bianca Barratt