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Café art: From Yazdani to Blue Tokai


SAMEERkulavoor1Visual artist and founder of Bombay Duck Designs, Sameer Kulavoor Photograph by Jimeet Pawaskar

Coffee to clear the mind and a café that can help us get ourselves together when we’re stuck in a moment. These are our reasons for heading out to the closest café – although we need a place with a little more character than a Starbucks – for comfort. When Mumbai-based visual artist and illustrator Sameer Kulavoor is inside a café, chances are he’s found inspiration for his next art exhibition. “Cafes are also great for solitude – for times when you want to be with your own thoughts. There’s something very compelling about people who understand the need for cafes, you know? The way they talk, their gestures, body language, the chatter or just a silent gaze. They are great subjects for me to observe and draw. In fact, a few of my cafe drawings were part of my solo show, ‘Please have a seat’,” says Kulavoor, who works out of his studio in Mazgaon and frequents cafes in and around Kala Ghoda and Colaba.

A chair at Kala Ghoda Café, framed photos of body builders on the walls of Yazdani bakery, two chatty ladies at The Pantry – Kulavoor’s sketchbook has them all. “The Pantry and Woodside Inn are great for people watching. Kala Ghoda Cafe has been one of my old favourites. Closer to my home in Parel is Cafe Zoe, which has the luxury of daylight and ample space. Occasionally, I also visit the older establishments – Kayani at Metro, Yazdani at Fort and Regal at Byculla – they attract a very different crowd and it is refreshingly old school.”

Here are some of Kulavoor’s caffeine-driven sketches