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‘Luraba Laija, Moirang’, painted by Yaiphahenba Laishram

Pencil and Charcoal Have Been My Staple, but Now I Want to Move on to oil and acrylic paintings: Yaiphahenba Laishram

Yaiphahenba Laishram is an upcoming artist and illustrator who was born in Manipur on 6th February 1994 at Nagamapal Singjubung Leirak to Laishram Gajaraj Singh (father) and P. Ranjana Devi (mother) who is their eldest child of three children. Yaiphahenba studied at Maria Montessori School in Imphal from nursery until 5th standard and Satyanarayan Academy in Kolkata from 6th to 10th standard.

He completed his high school from Public School, Manipur and did his B.A in Engineering and Computer Science from Reva Institute in Bengaluru, India. He has also completed his Masters in Communication Design from DA-IICT in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, India. Yaiphahenba is known for his work as an illustrator in Linthoi Chanu’s book ‘Wayel Kati-The Quest of the Seven Guardians’ where he has illustrated the characters from the book. Yaiphahenba is a freelance artist who does different kinds of projects. Yaiphahenba had been working in Japan for better income. Now, he’s currently in Manipur on a break. Here’s the excerpt from the interview with the artist.

Lakshmi: What has your artistic journey been like? What are your interests?

Yaiphahenba: Over the past couple of years from 2022 until now, I haven’t been able to produce many artworks but whenever I get time, I try my best to draw something.

I still consider myself a mere amateur artist who is still trying to find my own style to express myself. I’m still keeping an open mind and learning along the process, observing and analyzing works of many great artists. I am fond of working with pencils and charcoals for most of my artworks but recently I’m inspired to work more towards oil and acrylic paintings. Since I don’t have any formal education in Fine Arts, it has always been through keen observation and self-learning that I acquired some knowledge in making art. Since early childhood I have always been interested in drawing, scribbling on my notebooks, drawing on the walls of my house etc.

I’ve kept Art as a hobby so far since making a good career out of this profession is extremely challenging and has many uncertainties, but I do hope in future I would be able to overcome the challenges and make a full-time profession.

My interest lies in drawing portraits using graphite pencils and charcoal as a medium. I especially like drawing portraits of people because I believe that each one of us carry a certain number of expressions on our faces which are nonverbal yet speaks a volume when we face our day-to-day life. Those subtle expressions on one’s face fascinates me to draw and capture them on my canvas or on a simple piece of paper.

Lakshmi: In Manipur has making art been hard to make money or otherwise?

Yaiphahenba: Frankly speaking oh yes!! It’s been really hard to make decent money from doing art in Manipur. Sometimes I get commissioned to do a certain project, it could be a portrait sketch of a client or designing a logo but practically speaking this kind of projects come as a mere chance which is to say it doesn’t come quite often. So, when you don’t have work, you basically hang dry until you find another one. Since there is no proper channel or a market for instance, established in Manipur where I could sell my artworks professionally, it’s quite difficult and challenging to do art business here.

Lakshmi: You’ve learnt Japanese language, yes? How has your experience been with learning Japanese in Manipur?

Yaiphahenba: Sure, yes, I’ve learnt and completed a one-year certificate course in Japanese language (from Manipur University). Apart from making some new friends along the journey of learning Japanese language I haven’t found much relevant experiences here in Manipur.

Lakshmi: What do you think is the situation of Art in Manipur?

Yaiphahenba:From my point of view the situation of Art in Manipur is in a dire state which is to say that we are still lack so much, be it in infrastructure or cultural events related to Art (esp. Fine Arts) or even a good functional platform like art studios and galleries as such. I believe there are many talented and quite a number of remarkable and great artists in Manipur who are still struggling to make a decent living from doing art because of the above-mentioned conditions. And many of which couldn’t even get the proper exposure that they do deserve.

Even during the midst of the current ongoing communal war in Manipur, I observed that some of the organizations even tried to conduct social events like art exhibitions here and there but due to lack of proper functional body it just ends up as merely a small social event unlike the ones that happens in other parts of India like the art fairs in Mumbai, Kerela, Kolkata, Delhi etc.

Lakshmi: What is your hope for the future of art in Manipur?

Yaiphahenba: I honestly hope that in the near future our home state Manipur could also become a popular destination and attraction point for the art lovers from far and beyond. I hope many artists from the older generations to the new generations can together enjoy and practice making art freely without much difficulty and make a decent living like the rest of the professional bodies. I hope in future Manipur receives more tourists, artists, art enthusiasts from across the globe by conducting more and more regular Art fairs so that many of our local artists could get the opportunity to showcase their brilliant works and get the proper recognition and get a chance to interact and exchange ideas.

Lakshmi: Thank you very much for enlightening us about an artist’s plight in Manipur.

Yaiphahenba: Thank you for the interview.

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