Nikhil Singh illustration from TATY WENT WEST (Kwani? KENYA, Jacaranda Books UK, Rosarium US)
Nikhil Singh illustration from TATY WENT WEST (Kwani? KENYA, Jacaranda Books UK, Rosarium US)

Mick Raubenheimer’s ROUND CORNERS mini-interviews situate given artists outside their medium whilst peeking into their various worlds. He sat down in cyberland to chat with the multiply enigmatic visual artist, writer and musician Nikhil Singh about not-art and pearl diving.

When did you first identify as a creative artist?

i have never identified as a creative artist. human labels are limitations. in any case, i have always likened the image of the artist ‘creating’ art, to a pearl diver. the diver uses much skill and knowledge to bring a pearl from the bottom of the sea to the beach. but they did not create that pearl. in short, we create nothing – we simply channel – from dream, or the abstract, into materiality.

Outside of your medium, what branch of art most stimulates you?

i don’t recognise mediums or this label ‘art’. it is similar to the concept of genres. genres were created by publishers as sales brackets. ‘creativity’ is not predicated by sales – it is not a capitalist undertaking. and if a so-called artist chooses to see it that way, then they are not really an artist at all, but a common salesperson doing their best to please a market. so, to answer your question – every mode of expression stimulates me.

Nikhil Singh. Picture: Govan Adrian Basson/ Streetwear by Skeet
Nikhil Singh. Picture: Govan Adrian Basson/ Streetwear by Skeet

Which artist/s in said discipline have significantly inspired you, and why? 

my chief inspirations are not what you label ‘artists’. or human, for that matter. skill level, knowledge and compassion inspire me – as they do everyone, i suppose.

What, to you, is art’s most important function?

i don’t recognise the term ‘art’. and even if i did – i would not associate the word ‘functional’ with it. a pearl is simply an itch that the oyster could not scratch…

Local creatives (in any medium) that currently excite you?

nobody else from venus is interested in mediums. they always seem to think that you are a dead relative when they speak to you….

What specific work – be it in literature, music, or visual art – do you return to again and again, and why?

i don’t ‘return’ to forms – i never left! i am continuously producing work – in many modes.

Any current project you’re unveiling/wrapping up?

i have just received a book offer from a UK publisher for my new novel, which is a 500 page ‘existential-afrofuturist’ novel about cape town. am also wrapping up a new album and doing some large-scale portraits. i was invited to contribute a story to the official Harlan Ellison tribute anthology – The Unquiet Dreamer, published by PS (UK) later this month (August 2019). I was also recently featured in the New York Science Fiction review, invited to speak at panels at Readercon (Boston) and asked to present a Hugo award at Worldcon (Helsinki).

I completed two 400-plus page novels in the last two years (one of which is the book that is being published), as well as five screenplays and preparatory work on three other novels. i’ve also been busy with numerous drawings and recorded some music – which i have chosen not to release just yet. i’m also getting quite heavily involved in executive film production – with a company in the US.

Nikhil Singh is represented by the Sarah Such Literary Agency.

Who: Nikhil Singh