Kapil Bhimekar is a creative director at Leo Burnett in Dubai with a string of awards to his name. His Ocean in a Bag/Bottle campaign won a Grand Prix at Dubai Lynx this year. Outside work, he’s also an artist and illustrator, who believes art shouldn’t be hidden away in galleries – it should be part of our everyday lives. He loves to travel and draws to remember the places he has visited and the experiences he has had. His black and white illustrations are distinctive. They are not replicas, but memories of places – a blend of reality and imagination. They are also found across Dubai – in cafés, galleries, shops and workplaces, while his homewares and lifestyle products are sold via his local design store, K100 Designs.
Bhimekar talked to The Stable about his art, his side hustle and what art means to him.
Why advertising, and why art?
Kapil Bhimekar: Advertising felt like a profession that I can contribute to and be relevant in. And being an art graduate with a major in illustration, it’s always been natural for me to think of ideas that were more visual. I began working on my own art in 2015. After experimenting with a lot of styles, I began thinking consciously about the voice I can own as an artist. I developed a black and white, minimalist aesthetic. I like to use the least number of tools to tell my stories, and black and white allows me to do that. It’s a bold colour palette with a certain amount of honesty associated to it.
You draw what you see when you’re traveling – why?
Kapil Bhimekar: For me, the best way to remember any travel is by drawing it. Every time I’m visiting a new city, I carry a lot of drawing materials with me. I try to draw things that I find new around me. They could be a unique looking building or people, their pets etc. I try to make a note of these in my sketchbook, or if not, on available props like dried leaves or paper cups. I come back and recreate these memories in a single artwork.
These drawings are geographically incorrect. They are based on my travel experience that’s why they end up looking distorted. Their perspectives are unusual because they’re a mix of reality and abstraction. I don’t focus on perfection but on the experience and my story.
Why do you draw on different surfaces?
Kapil Bhimekar: I think of every object as a canvas, it’s a medium I can use to tell a story, and that’s why a lot of my work is not restricted to paper or canvas, I like to break that barrier.
I can explain this in a small story. I was in Madrid in 2019 and I was at a shoe store. There were these white sneakers which I really liked. They felt like a blank canvas that was inviting me to create something. I bought them and I ended up drawing all the experiences that I had in Madrid on that trip.
What is Dubai’s art scene like?
Kapil Bhimekar: Right now, it’s booming. There are more and more opportunities every day. Alserkal Avenue and Dubai Design District are two of the city’s popular design and art districts. Being an artist actually helped me to get the prestigious Golden Visa last April, granted by the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority.
How do you find time to make art?
Kapil Bhimekar: I make art when I need to take a break from work. Art helps me regain focus; it helps me get close to my true self. When you do something you love, it helps you in your daily work. That’s the reason I’m able to think better when I get back to work. For me, it’s not how do I find time for art but the other way around. When I make time for my art, my professional work feels fresher, too.
Kapil Bhimekar: I’m working on a new Art show which is going to be displayed in Abu Dhabi in December. It’s a one of a kind 3D experiential installation which is going to be a unique art collaboration between me as artist and the audience who would visit the show. I’m very excited about it as it’s a new thing which I’ve not tried before. I’m also working on compiling a small travel book with my illustrations.
View all of Bhimekar’s work here and on his Instagram page.