Kardami Kapila das (Stanislav Trifonov), also known as Nasimo, starts his career as a street artist in the early 90’s. Over the decades his art evolves from simple tags on the street to the complex paintings that we see today with incorporated rich symbolism and mysticism. In the last few years he gained national and international acclaim for his over ten-meter-tall graffiti that redefined the cultural definition and significance of street art. The devotees of ISKCON can recognise his paintings of Krishna, Radharani, Prabhupad, Lord Chaitanya and scenes of Srimad-Bhagavatam. There is Light is Kardami’s latest exhibition, a compilation of portraits featuring modern-day spiritualist on their journey to enlightenment. In collaboration with Urban Creatures, an organisation that promotes street art and culture, it took him three years to realise this ambitious project. The event took place took on a 40 000 m² underground parking lot in Sofia. Kardami’s vision was not merely to open a conventional art exhibition but to offer the audience a valuable interactive experience. The visitors had the unique opportunity to dive into a realm of pitch darkness, sound and light effects and experience the fear of the unknown. In a press release he shares:
“I want people to open their eyes and see what is real; to really see the world we live in. (…) Most of them try to escape reality; they close their eyes to the Truth and thus they live in illusion. In a world of darkness, there is always light. I want people to have courage to make the first move in their own battles. Everyone is fighting for their existence; they struggle to concur their egos and senses. My own personal battle is to find out who I am. When one knows his or her own identity, it is much easier to gain control over one’s life.”
Here it is what the talented artist shares with us about his latest art show:
In your paintings spirituality is shown in an unconventional way. How do you keep it authentic and true to the meta-physical reality?
It is a difficult question. The authenticity comes from within. Everyone has it. You are authentic only when you stay true to yourself and never pretend to be someone else. I don’t pretend to be a saint or a wise person, qualities some people attribute to me. I am just a guy who never stops searching for the higher truth; who goes through many difficulties and challenges on a daily basis. In my paintings I use symbols, images and objects that people can identify with and relate to. Maybe this is what adds to my art that sense of mysticism many people are referring to. I don’t know… life and art are the great mysteries to me.
Please take us through the moment when you decided to turn within and search for the Light?
It was a time when I was left with no other choice but that one. I found myself in a far and foreign place, all alone with very little means to live and survive. I really didn’t have any other choice other than turning inside and praying to God with all my heart. Shortly after that moment, my unfortunate situation became to improve. This experience ignited the sparkle of my curiosity. I wanted to learn as much as possible about God, the Universe, myself and how it all worked as one connected mechanism.
Do you have a lodestar?
Love and the belief that love actually exists is my lodestar.
You often say that you are not a believer but rather a knower. Where do you source your knowledge from?
It is crystal clear to me that this world has a Creator. I find it extremely naïve to think that the world and everything in it, all this diversity comes from nothing. Since a very young age, I had this strong feeling that there was Someone who took care of everything; who made the world go round, a Conductor. I just didn’t know who He was. But the Vedic scriptures, to which I was introduced by the Krishna devotees, made it all clear. Of course, I am still in the elementary school in terms of my spiritual advancement and can easily say that I know very little but that doesn’t stop me of trying to fill in my hard drive (metaphorically speaking) with knowledge.
How did the practising of Bhakti-yoga change your life?
It changed it fundamentally. It turned everything upside down or, more accurately said, it turned it to a more natural and closer to nature lifestyle. It helped me to understand what is truly good for me and the others around me; how to serve God and what pleases Him. The practice of bhakti-yoga introduced me to the four regulative principles that give me freedom in my life. It is a life without violence, cheating, intoxication and gambling. It’s not easy to conquer some of my bad habits, but I keep trying every day.
You have your own fashion line. What is the concept behind it?
The fashion line GOLOKA is for customers who like the street culture, the fans of hip-hop, hardcore music and the skaters. I believe that these people need to be introduced this knowledge. Love in general is experienced in sharing. As a street artist, this is the audience I am exposed and have access to. Through my art I want to share with them my personal realisations. This is my concept.
Is there anyone you are grateful to?
To my parents mainly because they have raised me and give me the opportunity to develop in the direction I’ve wanted to. Even though it wasn’t easy for them to accept the fact that I create my art at night on other people’s walls and then get phone calls from the police. Regardless, they have encouraged me to go to university and develop my talent. The next person I am deeply grateful to is Beinsa Douno, my first spiritual guru. He opened my eyes for spirituality. Then came the incredible devotees from ISKCON who took the time to introduce me to the philosophy, support me and tolerate my ignorance. I am grateful to Devamrita Swami, who accepted me as his disciple and to the spiritual teacher of the whole world: Srila Prabhupada. I am also grateful to all the art teachers out there who are not a small number. I am grateful to Yasen Geshev (the founder of Urban Creatures) because his involvement and general contribution raised this kind of art to a whole new level. From the moment we met we became great friends. He is someone I can always count on. There are so many more people I cross paths with and who offer me help. Everyone is important because consciously or not we are all instruments of God.