Brushing aside the limits

- September 18, 2023
| By : Mohd Shehwaaz Khan |

Young Kabir Vernal, who is on the autism spectrum, is finding joy in finger painting

The boy's painting takes inspiration from nature (L); Kabir with his mother (R)

When 12-year-old Kabir Vernal was diagnosed with autism, his mother Triveni Goswami knew that she had to give him the care and attention needed for special kids.

Kabir, whose sensory preference revolved around the joy of sticky textures, was introduced to activities involving slime, shaving foam, kinetic sand, and play dough, by his mother. However, Kabir would become restless once the stickiness faded. Seeing this, his mother introduced finger painting as an intervention for Kabir.

“He loved to touch glue, gum, and things like that. So, I thought maybe I should start giving him paints because they are sticky,” says Triveni Goswami, mother and a special education teacher.

Over time, Kabir started to draw beautiful paintings, often drawing inspiration from nature and creating abstract artwork.

“People who are neurodivergent tend to see the world very differently. For instance, Kabir won’t draw a petal or a flower the way it should conventionally be drawn,” she says.

His artwork is currently being showcased in an exhibition by Maqaam Foundation at Aparna Art Gallery.

Kabir engaged in sensory exploration through behaviours such as spinning and fascination with close-up visuals on screens.

CREATIVE MIND: Kabir’s art is abstract, bordering on expressionism

Triveni informs that Kabir is on the Autism Spectrum, a developmental disability caused by differences in the brain.

“Autism Spectrum individuals can exhibit diverse tactile (touch) sensory needs, ranging from seeking touch to experiencing tactile defensiveness,” Goswami explains.

“He is not interested in the product of art as much as he is interested in the process of it,” Goswami adds.

Over time, he grew more involved in the process and collaborated with his mother to incorporate everyday objects and outdoor elements.

Kabir’s artistic journey emphasises not solely representative art but also the value of embracing imperfection. His mother believes that perfection should not obstruct a child’s artistic expression, even if they face challenges like holding a pen or applying pressure with crayons.

“He has a vision for art. For this, I have also exposed him to various artists that we have in the world. For example, I took him to the Van Gogh exhibition that took place in Gurugram recently,” she says.

Encompassing abstract expressionism, floral art with loose brush strokes, Kabir’s art has achieved recognition through participation in national and international art exhibitions, earning prizes for his distinctive artistic style.

He has participated in ‘National Talent Hunt in Art for Youths: 5th Edition’ held in Pune, ‘Maqaam – National Art Exhibition’ in New Delhi, and ‘Beyond Limits 2022’, showcasing art-works by artists with disabilities.

Kabir’s artistic journey extends beyond the canvas, as he has also contributed to inclusive art shows and fundraisers organised by organisations like the Soch Autism Society, Punjab.

Moreover, his work has been featured in international exhibitions, including the ‘6th Edition of My Dream World Child Artists International Art Exhibition’ and the ‘1st Edition of Online International Exhibition of Iranian and Indian Artists’.

In 2022, he was selected to paint the facade of the Pepperfry Studio in Banjara Hills, Road no. 12, by AtypicalAdvantage.

Nature plays a significant role in Kabir’s artistic inspiration. Natural patterns found in leaves, flowers, barks, and other elements, such as spirals, symmetry, and lines, fuel his creativity. Exploring nature and absorbing its beauty contribute to his artistic expression.