Kartik Trivedi, Houstonite and uniquely gifted artist, musician, educator and psychic is often described as a Renaissance man. His work reflects harmony and beauty reflecting Shri Aurobindo’s perception of the artist as mystic, “In the Yogin’s vision of universal beauty, all becomes beautiful.”
Born on December 10, 1937, in Lunsar, Gujarat, he migrated to the USA in August 1967. He holds four Masters degrees in Economics/Political history, Art history, World music and Painting. As an artist he paints in two contradictory styles- Impressionism, a 19th century French Art movement characterized by distinct and fluid brush strokes and the pulsating qualities of light. The second is a Gujarat folk art manner- stylized, figurative, patterned and solid. His art resume is remarkable with his work in the collections of various Indian and Western dignitaries such as Mitterand, Prince Charles, Mr. Bill Clinton, late Mr. Rajiv Gandhi etc., He is one of the rare musicians in the world who plays Hindustani on the piano with a delicacy and masterly fluidity that is rapturous and
haunting. (His stature as a master musician has not yet received the worldwide attention it deserves.) He has four piano albums: Basanti (1980), Flame of Fire (1993), Autumn (1996), and The Raga Impressions (2011)
He is in the late Autumn of his life, an apt metaphor, for the artist whose musical and artistic creations are intertwined with inspiration from nature. Disarmingly good-hearted and humble, Mr. Trivedi shared his perspectives and melodies on life with Asian Outlook.
Interview by Usha Akella (Published in India Currents, Houston, USA, 2014)
"I feel a big world of paintings and music hovering around my mind. I feel like I am floating around in a form of light."
Usha Akella: How has coming to the West altered and shaped your innate artistic talent? How did playing the piano begin
Kartik Trivedi: When I was in India I enjoyed doing paintings and studying music. I also had learned how to sing classical music and play the flute. When I came to America I studied Art History at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio. And Painting at Kent State University, Kent, Ohio. Here, I learned how to study in a most methodical way and I aimed at perfection.
I was initially fascinated by the Sarod in India and studied it for a year. In Case Western Reserve, at Thwing Hall, I tried out my Sarod style of playing a raga on the piano and was greatly encouraged by the students there. The late Ustad Ali Akbar Khan heard my piano in California and greatly encouraged me and I studied a few ragas from him.
UA: Tell me about Kartik’s sensibility as an artist and as a musician- the difference with which you process the world when you wear each of these hats.
KT: God has given me some Psychic ability. This advance level clairvoyance helps me to fly above Art and Music. Then each note on the piano keyboard is like a patch of color accompanying that musical sound. I feel a big world of paintings and music hovering around my mind. I feel like I am floating around in a form of light. With a piano, I am a pianist and a composer. With canvas, paint and brush, I am a painter. They are closely inter-related to me.
UA: Tell us how you arrived at two disparate artistic styles- impressionism and figurative-narrative? Does this represent a kind of East-West demarcation in your sensibility?
KT: Both styles have likeable elements which attract me- one is a gift from India. I improvise on a folk style and make it more decorative and colorful. And the other is a step forward in a Western style, more colorful. I am trying to preserve the beauty that is already existing on the planet- harmony, rhythm, a sense of color… I am trying to document the moment.
When I was in India, I had seen books on French Impressionist paintings; inspired, I had started painting in that style. I was also fascinated by Gujarat’s folk art. There was a nice sense of composition, line, rhythm and color. In 1960, I had done a painting titled ‘Virpuja’ in a folk style at an inter university youth competition and won a national award. That was a good feeling. And encouraged me to continue on that road. I improvise around folk styles. My impressionist work helped me get employment here in the US and I recently became an associate member of the American Impressionist Society and Professional Oil Painters of America.
UA: Would Kartik the artist have been different without his psychic abilities? Has this sensitivity affected you as a musician?
KT: With my Psychic ability, I have felt that my soul is different than my body. As you know my musical abilities have been with me for many years. When I lived in Bedford, Ohio, I had a life changing experience. One early morning, at about 4.30 a.m. while still in bed, I felt woken up by someone and saw a big circle of golden light speaking to me telepathically in English. I was able to understand every line. I was told that in one point and time in my previous life experiences, I was a famous musician in Germany. And they wanted to take me back to music. Lots of things were revealed in that meeting. It is a long story. My musical career began after that. Since then, I have produced four piano albums. I hear music suddenly in total. I try to remember and reproduce it at times.
UA: Tell us a little more about your Krishna project of 101 paintings?
KT: I have a deep love for Lord Krishna and it goes back to past life connections that have been revealed to me. In 2004 August it was 12.30 past midnight. I went out to put my garbage bags in the backyard and to water the grass. I was praying to the Lord to come live in my little house and suddenly the fragrance of mint (Tulasi) was everywhere. His powerful presence was known to me in that experience. I was very emotional and decided to do 101 paintings in memory of his kind visit
UA: How do you value fame in an artist’s life? Eventually, does it limit an artist as an illusory trap to be taken with a grain of salt or provide the stimulus needed to go on
KT: Fame can help the artist. But it is not everything for the artist. If an artist can tune in with the cosmic energy then it can help our creativity
UA: You’ve received as much interest for your psychic abilities as for your artistic talents. You’ve often remarked that you have a duty to let people know about other dimension. Why do you feel the urgency?
KT: I have dedicated much energy into the area of Paranormal science. I have written a book in Gujarati titled, “Sadgati Agna Udata Padchaya” (The flying shadows of a burning fire.) In 1971, I met Bertha Eckrod, the ectoplasmic medium. She told me that I was born with mediumistic gifts and I should use this capacity to help people understand the dimensions above this one. I knew I had something unusual, before I met her but when she affirmed it, I was convinced. There was the picture of Lord Christ on the wall and she asked me to take his blessings to do this work on the planet. It was a very meaningful meeting and allowed me to help others with this gift.
UA: A life criss-crossed with hardship and honors; brilliant talent and perhaps insufficient recognition from your hometown, Houston; lofty spiritual experiences and health crisis; I’ve seen you remarkably accepting and uncritical in the face of it all. How do you surmise the complicated life of Kartik Trivedi
KT: I had a serious heart attack in October 2010. There are two pace makers in my heart and I am surviving with the help of these two pace makers. I survived prostrate cancer. I no longer drive or work due to health issues. I mostly stay home and paint now. There is some sadness. But the mother divine is a real mother to me and I am always hopeful of getting her help. My inner strength comes from the mystical experiences which has convinced me that there is a divine power that will help me in my struggle for survival
UA: Is your inner globe still revolving or are you settled with your self at this stage in life?
KT: I am not settled, what I mean, is I am still struggling to progress onwards as a musician and as an artist or even as a student of a paranormal science. I accept the last as a science. The fire is still there. At the end of 2011, Amazon.com and Create Space published “Kartik Trivedi. Artist of all Generations.” I am planning a bigger book on my painting which is inclusive of more work. I want to achieve a higher level in Impressionism. I am working on new drawings. I may not change the style but work with newer compositions. I want to produce one more CD at least. I want to do orchestral pieces- concertos.
I plan to keep striving to achieve a higher level every day.