An international artist and illustrator who hails from Sydney, Australia, Karan Singh has lived and worked in Tokyo, Amsterdam, New York, Melbourne and Malmö, Sweden. His creations, which combine optical art and mid-century graphic design paired with hypnotic patterns and vibrant colors, have come to life in sculpture, prints, puzzles, video, animation and clothing.
One of seven artists who re-envisioned Oscar for this year's campaign, his take on the statuette was inspired by ideas of harmony and unity in a time of pandemic isolation. “Although it’s been a tough year for us all to be together, film has helped entertain, distract, console and inspire,” he says. To reflect the diversity of talents it takes to make a film, he envelops Oscar in shapes and colors.
Karan can’t help but watch films as an artist. Because his own work causes him to make creative decisions so thoughtfully, he finds himself isolating components of the movies he watches to look for meaning and inspiration in the artistic choices.
“From the photography, to wardrobe, to the lighting, to the editing and beyond, I enjoy trying to understand how and why they’ve made the decisions they have and what that means for the story,” he says. “Ultimately, it’s always a joy to watch other artists work, if not to inspire than to better understand your own work.”
Here are Singh's top picks for the movies that most inspired him.
I adore this film for so many reasons. At first it was my affinity to the title; I adore working in the late/early hours, or even just navigating a place when all is a little darker and deserted. But, I think what kept me coming back to this film is how director Jim Jarmusch turned something fairly ubiquitous and mundane around the world—a taxi ride—into something far more special. It celebrates the fleeting bond between taxi driver and passenger. Characters from different worlds are forced together and whether out of being strangers, or the veil of night, feel a little more honest than they perhaps are to their friends and family.
Being a nomadic expat for the past nine years has inevitably led to a blurred vision of where home is. I had seen Lost in Translation prior to leaving Sydney, but only began to properly appreciate in later years. Director Sofia Coppola’s depiction of Tokyo felt a little like my time there, but it’s the theme of disconnection (performed beautifully by Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray) that makes this film so special.
We studied this film in my final year of high school and despite watching it on repeat, I can still watch it to this day and find something new. Visually it is a work of art. It’s rich with meticulously considered visual cues and metaphor, in combination with a unique sci-fi meets film-noir style.
An Australian classic, it’s full of so many funny, lovable characters (including a young Eric Bana) with a wholesome and grounding sentiment to it.
What I love the most about Christopher Nolan’s films is his ability to make fantastical ideas feel real and plausible. He toes the line between fact, fiction and reality so masterfully that the stories pull you in. I was so captivated by both Inception and Interstellar that it felt like watching scientific theory injected with an engaging narrative and beautiful visuals.