Emailing With Street/Tape/Fine Artist Aakash Nihalani

Edith Zimmerman: Your show that just opened at the Jonathan LeVine Gallery in New York is called “Portal.” And a recent picture from the show on your Tumblr is particularly … portally, for lack of a better word. What does the title mean to you?

Aakash Nihalani: I was trying to create a new optical space within the confines of the physical space I was working on. Visually, almost all the works share a central point of entry/exit.

I tried to explore the idea of Portal in different ways; some works have an actual physical void in the canvas itself, while others use the composition to create the perceptual suggestion of receding depth or infinite loops.

I also really like the landing page of your site.

It’s the first interactive work I did. Felt like it captured the idea of the tape work well. Glad you dig.

How much do prints/paintings of yours cost? I’m sorry if that’s an inappropriate question — or one best left to gallery visitors — but I’m curious, personally, even if it’s off the record. I want one!

Thanks for asking. Please contact

Do you know, without having to look, roughly how many Facebook fans you have at the moment?

Counting numbers is terrible for the soul.

And you just started a Twitter account, right?

Been on it for a bit, I just delete tweets after a few days.

Two things on your website beyond the pictures stand out. You mention that, with your street art (some of which can be seen in the video above), you’re “trying to offer people a chance to step into a different New York than they are used to seeing, and in turn, momentarily escape from routine schedules and lives … to see the city more playfully,” which I like. Are there ways you try to do this in your own life? Or particular things/concepts you turn to, to escape your own routines?

I’ve been relying on a good workout lately to get my head clear…

You also write, “People need to understand that how it is isn’t how it has to be,” but isn’t that inherently untrue? Maybe it’s a personal thing, but isn’t the way that it is exactly how it has to be? I think I know what you’re getting at, but do you know what I mean?

Most of the things that dictate our day-to-day are man made. Tangibly speaking, like buildings and trains, but also the intangible, like our social constructs of what normal or acting/living normal is, even the notion of time is man made. I’m not saying let’s all learn quantum physics, but I do think we (I) forget that things can always be seen/experienced differently than we are impressed upon.

What I’m pushing for is more a matter of perspective.

If you’re helping people to see things more playfully — and your work is colorful and unexpected, as you mention, and highlights the city’s elegance — what would be the opposite of your work?

The guy that takes the work down, I guess.

How old are you? (26, right?)


Where would you live besides New York?

Thinking about Mumbai lately. India’s been an amazing backdrop to make work, there’s a real sort of organized chaos.

Also, I got family there.

If I had to, I would compare your work to Escher, Haring, and I guess Banksy for lack of more art knowledge. But who/what are some of your more surprising influences?

Snake charmers/magicians.

What’s the last album you listened to/good book you read?

Just reread Pastoralia by George Saunders. Tryna get my hands on his new book of shorts, Tenth of December.

What did you do for New Year’s?

Was in the studio working on the show…

…Which is open until February 9, if New Yorkers want to drop by. Otherwise, Aakash has a webite, a Tumblr, and that vanishing-ink Twitter account.