Aanshiki Mittal Enlivens Kutum Katam Art to Find Beauty in Broken Tree Branches | Surfaces Reporter

Aanshiki Mittal Enlivens

There is beauty in broken things and often ignored. Very few notice the splendor in broken objects. They learn to mend and resurrect the lost soul. The breath of revival not only empowers the creator but also sympathetically teaches the elements of materials, form and integrity. And Gurugram-based Aanshiki Mittal is one such humble inventor, who gained the knowledge of appreciating the lost, only to be found.

Based on Aban Thakur’s Kutum Katam, Found by Aanshiki transforms discarded tree branches and roots, or unwanted and leftover wood into wooden accent pieces.

Despite working in the corporate world for a while, Mittal knew she wanted to explore the world of art. Little did she know, last year’s heavy downpour in Gurugram which lead to the uprooting of trees in her society complex, would eventually be her calling. Narrating her story, the MBA degree holder recalls, “I always knew I wanted to get into the art space. However, the question was: what would be my style of expression? And the answer came in from an unlikely place. One of such tree’s branches had a very unique form that instantly started talking to me. That’s when I started learning more about wood art.” During her findings, she stumbled upon Aban Thakur’s 70-year-old Kutum Katam art of visual expression. Thakur’s Kutum Katam ideates the process of transforming discarded tree branches and roots, or unwanted and leftover wood into tangible wooden sculptures. “That’s when Found by Aanshiki happened as I set out to resurrect this esoteric art form with my own modern spin to it,” informs Mittal.

Mittal accepts the imperfectness of the wood and tries to bring the broken piece to life by highlighting its natural contours and textures.

Preserving broken beauty

Celebrating break, ruin and repair, Found by Aanshiki honours the narrative of lost nature. Once Mittal finds the finest natural, lost piece of a tree branch, she embarks to re-imagine the piece through her artistic lens. She accepts the imperfectness of the wood and tries to bring the broken piece to life by highlighting its natural contours and textures, thereby safeguarding its original outline. Explaining her restorative process of rebuilding nature’s piece with a newfound elegance, Mittal says, “Marked with a complete absence of straight lines, my work tends to preserve the natural contours of the Found wooden pieces while augmenting it with the subtlest of artistic touches in an attempt to add a degree of refinement and attach an element of finality to nature’s hidden messages. The result of which is a one-of-a-kind, genre-defining piece.”

According to her, Found – a collection of five designs – is not confined to a single canvas with the creations often traversing the lines between art and decor, sculpture and furniture. Characterized by serpentine forms, Reflection tries to create a world of the ideal man, exemplified by the power of transformation, self-healing, fertility and even destruction. While Mnemonics triggers the creativity which is inherent within us, Unfamiliar Roads is an exploration of the many paths that the mind consciously and unconsciously traverses. Elaborating on her collections, Mittal cites, “Mnemonics is meant to be a gentle reminder of nature’s subtle messages which our suppressed imagination is unable to comprehend, despite being in plain sight. While there’s no specific entry point or a set course to many paths our mind takes on, Unfamiliar Roads creates the points of engagement that are subtly created and brought to the fore.”

Found by Aanshiki features five collections, namely Reflection, Mnemonics, Unfamiliar Roads, Corollary and As It Is.

Corollary takes a more abstract perspective. “It is the exactitude of what the name suggests – the exploration of the obvious propositions that follow from one that has already been proved. The work sometimes becomes the proposition and draws one in to visualize the conclusion. Sometimes the corollary transcends into the conclusion itself, creating an engagement in the opposite direction,” she enlightens.  The As It Is collection attempts to reflect the bittersweet realities of modern society and the emotional perplexities created by humans. She says, “By putting the supreme creator himself in the seat of the artist, this collection tries to represent how human beings today stand in stark contrast to what the creator has ideally intended them to manifest into.”

Mittal has now established a studio in Gurugram where clients can experience intricate pieces from the collection.

On the road to success

Mittal has successfully embraced the perfectly imperfect. Uniquely she has used the traditional craft to breathe a new life into lost treasures by introducing them into our daily lives with grace and acceptance. She introduced Found by Aanshiki at the TAKE Pop-Up Art Gallery 1AQ, Delhi to showcase the charm of restoring functionality. Mittal has now established a studio in Gurugram where clients can experience intricate pieces from the collection.

It was quite tricky for Mittal to explain in words the art to her clients. “It’s only when the intriguing visual assets of the pieces started to float, people got hooked to this new form. Our Instagram handle started to blink with inquiries and appreciations,” elucidates the exploring and evolving artist, who is now commissioning customized work.

About the artist

An MBA-turned-artist from Gurugram, India, Aanshiki Mittal’s work explores natural forms and structures as accents for her narrative on the evolution of humankind and society as a whole, by placing God as an observer and the true artist, with the world as both His creation and His muse. She adopted Aban Thakur’s, the lesser-known cousin of Rabindranath Tagore, art work Kutum Katam visual expression by creating sculptures from discarded tree branches and roots, driftwood, and leftover, unwanted wood.

Product designer Aanshiki Mittal
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