Archan Nair – Featured Illustrator and Digital Artist
It began with a simple photo on a simple day in a mystical place. I was in a port town called Puerto Ayora on the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador. I chose this destination as a writing retreat to continue a novel I’d begun while living in Phoenix, Arizona. I was initially scheduled for Quito, which is the capital of Ecuador, but the day before I set voyage, I came across an unusually inexpensive flight from mainland Ecuador to the islands. As expected, with such an omen, my plans changed, and I was island-bound.
It was April 2015, and I was setting sail for Ecuador to attend a wedding. A childhood friend of mine was to be married. This event summoned the idea of prolonging my visit to write. The ceremony took place in the coastal surfing town of Montanitas, and the reception was minutes down the road in the quaint village of Oloncito. After long, overnight flights, hour bus rides, and lack of sleep, setting foot in a different country can be quite a surreal experience. I remember exiting the bus in Oloncito with a tiny suitcase and small backpack; all my synapses firing and nerves bouncing up and down and this way, all because it was so… new. It brought back the memory of being on the Hawaiian Islands for the first time. I was filled with life; everything was so infant and alive, so remarkably present. The poverty incredibly real and faces along the cracked third-world streets so soft and kind. And the feeling of traveling along the dirt highways between main cities, awe-struck by the half-eaten abodes I assumed were rubble but rich with inhabitants. It was all so different, especially arriving first world, where most things don’t apply, and every nuance of your existence becomes luxurious and unnecessary. The overall impression was an arresting initiation to South America and what I now know as a traveler’s shift of consciousness.
My flight to the Galapagos was to leave from Guayaquil following the wedding. That first week filled me with love, between my friend’s engagement and the subtleties only an outsider would find fascinating: hordes of families welcoming their loved ones off the arriving flight at 3 am, bellowing with such enthusiasm and commitment; dogs meandering unencompassed along dirt roads, masters of their own embark; the redolence of empanadas trolling the streets. I felt this embrace of family, for just a moment, as if there were no small, overstated circles in life but one large, unencumbered universe guiding us between one raveled embryo and every illusory idea that perfectly divides us parsed—fluid-like individual molecules connecting water. It was all so charming.
As that first week in Ecuador ended, a friend from the wedding decided to change his plans and adventure with me. We rode separate flights and were two hours apart, arriving at the islands. I made it first and checked in to our hostel. On his flight over, he met someone who ended up joining us that week. We did the tourist thing and hopped around the islands together. It was the paradise you hear about if you’ve ever heard about the Galapagos. The incredibly ancient wildlife and the serenity of the landscape they inhabit. Some of the most beautiful images one may ever see in a lifetime exist in a place like that. As the cliché reveals, it was beautiful. There’s no better way to put it. But there was another side to that.
While my friends prepared to leave for their flight on a not-so-particular day, I prepared my writing schedule. In that first week there, we stumbled upon the Darwin Library. That was my first scouted location. It was this quaint little research facility for biologists and naturalists to further their vocational knowledge. Binders and books and globes covered the walls and perimeter; three rectangular tables garbed the center of the room, and overlooking it all was this endearing student-receptionist who only spoke Spanish. I knew then the majority of my writing would be done there.
As my friends rode off in a taxi on the way to the airport, my anxiety began to rise. I’m generally an anxious person, especially when it comes to new terrain. Now that I was alone with that anxiety, naturally, it intensified. As I emphasized above, you’ve heard of the picturesque Galapagos, but what you probably haven’t heard is that it’s not such an easy place to settle into. There’s a strange clash between tourism and the developing world. In any tourist town, especially those with withering economies that force the natives to partake in the exploitation of their sacred land, it always sets the stage for a dispirited underbelly and slanted theatrics. The tourists want nothing to do with the port town or its people; they’re either preparing to ship off to another island or too wiped out returning from one. They just want to eat and sleep, or they’re preoccupied preparing to ship off again. The natives are too busy hustling to survive and too jaded by the endless waterfall of tourists pouring in by the busload, all requiring the same service and exhausting exchange as the forerunners before them. Aside from this impediment that made me feel like even more of a deficient pariah, to add to it, being alone in a place where you don’t speak the language fluently can be an awkward experience in itself. Ordering food was a challenge. Come dinner, I would rove the strip of restaurants, attempting to judge which servers would draw the least attention to me and my Americanism. Which, of course, is another defeatist, fulfilling the expatriate generalization of “Dumb American.” Trying to do everything that involved human exchange was a complete humiliation. However, it ended up being just what I needed to write: a perfect attire for just the right amount of discomfort for creativity. At the time, it didn’t feel that way, though.
Halfway through that first week of writing, I came upon something that brought me closer to what I consider mysticism. During my lunch break on one of the days, I decided to sit on a bench by the pier and watch the fisherman feed the storks. I took out my camera and snapped a picture of one of the birds, not knowing what was in the photo’s background. I had chosen the name of the book months before I even left for the Galapagos. The title of it was to be called Genesis. This picture signified the first of many synchronous experiences (which is somewhere over fifty now) that continue to lead me on the path I’m on today. If there is such a thing as god, aside from my abbreviated understanding of it, I feel as if I had been spoken to directly by a voice that continues to repeat an answer. That experience, that single experience, led me to reshape everything in my life: to continue to travel, to build this website and blog, to create a path based on the virtuous content within the book, around the book, around my life based on the book… and in the coming years, the truth that book may relic. But aside from what that experience began in my life, if you’re reading this now, in this moment, which is the greatest and most eternal, that experience has led me to you.
As it may return like a breath of wind, this is not only the beginning of my redefining moment but the beginning of yours. Let us evaluate a word, ‘Gen.’ It is an ambiguous expression considering all the various meanings, combined form meanings, and abbreviated meanings across a daub of different cultures and continents. Pertaining to said synchronicity, I chose ‘Gen’ as the abbreviated sobriquet of the word ‘Genesis.’ According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, ‘Genesis’ is the origin or coming into being of something. The root of the word via Latin from Greek, meaning ‘generation, creation, nativity, horoscope,’ from the base of gignesthai, ‘be born or produced.’ Here, on this ever-evolving platform, we shall again do just that. We shall be that which produces, like oxygen or hydrogen. We shall find our roots together in the opus of imperfective creation.
It is here, perhaps once again, that I introduce a familiar idea once forgotten. An idea you may recognize as an ancient seed planted long ago that continues to rejuvenate life. Maybe it is something you accidentally stumble upon during a typical day, realizing but not comprehending that your life is an accumulation of these tiny experiences and small moments, all communicating and happening in tandem, overcast by one expanding and contracting moment that is infinitely evolving and yet, within the same unchanged parable. But maybe such a divine accident, such an evolutionary footnote to your spiritual dynasty, comes to you on a whim, in a very simple moment in your life, a moment like this that changes your momentum infinitely.
The world is in a mental quagmire, as it may or may not have always been, and we are consistently drawn to a life of inequality within the boundaries of this counterpart. A spiritual life, independent of religious sanctity, in the evolution of oneness. This is our time; we must come together and re-inherit our true nature, our true being, and recast the powers before us to light. The creative powers. It is our time to return the sands of the gods to the compassionate waterfronts from which they came. As the sky becomes an endless painting of majesty by the hand of the greatest living artist, may we ape the winds with our identical genius. We are the greatest of accidents; may we continue to live!
The Saddening Wind
She never shows her dark side. That spring wedding in ash, marching through holocaust braids. Though I know it there—
I’ve seen marbles crack in boots made of snake tears; skin like rubber clowns weeping in parades that celebrate only the beautiful people of the world.
Children playing by the highway hoping for the kite to break free. They’re in for a surprise. Though I suppose everything is a surprise at some point.
I’ve seen what happens to the fluorescent in the eye that un-petals the only standing damask rose; strong enough to survive an arctic summer, though too weak to survive itself.
It never goes beyond the horizon or shares its abreaction or runs the last horse in fear what the crowd might think or do. It sits and gets fat and builds dams and gets fatter and then wonders, “Whatever is there left to discuss?”
Most people think they are hidden by the things they do not say… most people don’t know how brilliantly close they are to edifying egged-wheels. How far they’ve taken themselves—how little they’ve heard about the wind. Beside the cloak the blade is full… or dull. I never could remember which.
Her anger is a shadowed beak made purely from the void; frozen in blocks of ice that thicken over time. And whence, those miserable little things that didn’t end up “okay in the end” as promised, will be returned to the void and shall devour once again.
How blatantly farcical to believe we could undo the universe. To think there is an end in sight. Folding in and folding over; trying so hard. Just trying in general—
Take down your thirteenth ghost and allow those that haven’t spoken to be said; for beauty is not always held in what is beautiful, but what has been made in shame.
by LORIN DREXLER
Archan Nair (www.archannair.com) is a Visual artist, Illustrator, and Digital Artist specializing in mixed media, illustration, and digital art based in Berlin, Germany. Archan’s visual expressions are part of a journey influenced by the mysteries of our existence and how every action, emotion, and interconnectedness on a universal scale sets off a chain of reactions.. that we experience from the micro to the macro scale.
Formerly a fashion major and entrepreneur, Archan started painting in 2006 at the age of 24 and made the shift as an independent artist in 2007. Since Archan’s cultural roots are in India, his work underlies the multi-dimensional tone that vibrates through the senses of the land.
Since then, Archan has embarked on an exhilarating and inspirational journey, collaborating with various companies and individuals such as Nike, Red Bull, Canon, Infiniti, Sony Netflix, Samsung, Electric Forest, and GQ, among many others. Archan has achieved recognition from music artists like Kanye West and collaborations with Chris Brown, Lindsay Lohan, and Justine Bateman and has been featured in various publications like Vice, RollingStone, Vogue, and GQ.
What is Gen Society?
Gen Society is an art space blog for visual art and creative writing collaborations, and other randomizations. Hosted by writer and musician Lorin Drexler, this online venue is an expressive experience for those interested in the world of the arts. It is a literary journey through the hearts and minds of contemporary artists in practice and a reflection of those who have long passed.
If you’re an artist and would like to submit your work in consideration to collaborate with Gen Society, please click below: