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Artist Spotlight: Mohan Sundaresan



Author: Braelee Conticchio

As I walked into the back yard of his adorable La Jolla home, the garage side door swung open with a sizable cloud of cannabis smoke and out walked Mohan. With a smile bigger than the pacific ocean and joy pouring out of him before he even said anything, I could feel this was going to be an incredible experience. I was lucky enough to spend the next hour or so learning more about Mohan, his unique cannabis fine art and much, much more.

             Mohan was born in Bangalore, a very large city in India, where he lived with his family, including three older siblings. He shared fond memories of his childhood, playing outside and creating toys out of sticks, stones, and anything else he could find. Although they did not have much materialistically, Mohan used his imagination and creativity to enjoy natural beauty in life. Since, Mohan has lived in Austria, London and settled in San Diego in 1989.

Credit: JDixx Photography, La Jolla

I quickly learned of Mohan’s love of literature and music as he quoted poems, songs by Kris Kristofferson and Don McLean and even shared some original quotes. Along with using cannabis to open his mind, Mohan stressed the importance of “always try to be as much as me as possible” during the process of creating his fine cannabis art. Most of the time he finds inspiration in nature, on walks with his 14-year-old dog Dizzy the dachshund, in gardens, landscapes, clouds, and stars. “A child in bewilderment” is how he described himself captivated by mother nature. He’s a dreamer who believes we are all one, joined by our souls.

Credit: JDixx Photography, La Jolla

Mohan likes to work at his own pace when creating, the spontaneity is an important part of getting lost in his art. He also happily welcomes problems during the process as they make the outcome better in his experience. His average piece is about 3 feet long and 4 feet tall in size and takes about 4-5 weeks to complete. The best way to explain his process? Doing something that makes no sense. 

            He always includes a dark and a light aspect to his art, representing the yin and the yang. Quite literally, sometimes he even switches out the lights in his studio to intensify his technique. Mohan uses hemp and aluminum materials but has also used wood, other metals, acrylic and more. The process starts with two hand-painted canvases of the same size. This is where the yin and yang come in, Mohan often likes to incorporate a dark and a light, two paintings that are almost opposite. However, he told me “How am I to dictate which color to use, I just let whatever happens happens”. The process continues once the paintings are dry and he is able to cut both into strips and shapes. He then takes the cutouts and from the center out, weaves them together to create one intertwined piece. Once finished and glued down, a cannabis leaf is added to the center and voila: fine cannabis leaf art!

Credit: JDixx Photography, La Jolla

Not only does using cannabis help open Mohan’s mind to let inspirations in and ideas to flow out, but he also explained it alleviates stress and allows him to fully enjoy his life and craft. He’s been using medicinal cannabis for years now and it has even helped him stop consuming alcohol. We laughed as he told me someone once asked how much cannabis he uses and he responded with “Do I ask how many cups of coffee a day you drink? If you must inquire its about 33 tablespoons”. But we both agreed, who is to judge!

            Mohan does not create his art for money, the process and creating alone fulfills his life and creates immeasurable happiness. He explained that we all have a purpose and meaning inside of us, we have to find it and understand it. He told me most people are always trying to climb up the ladder, trying to get higher but the real secret is to climb down and see what’s supporting the ladder, what it’s standing on. When you unleash your inner self, it’s easy and clear to see what you’re meant to do. The art and insight shared by Mohan are some that I’ll never forget.

            Along with art, Mohan is very passionate about giving back. He expressed to me that global change is in the hands of generations to come but in the meantime, all of us need to do whatever we are capable of to help. Mohan has not only donated one of his pieces to The Last Prisoner Project but was also generous enough to donate a gorgeous piece to us for our Heroes’ Harvest charity event for veterans this past December. Mohan explained to me the importance of “doing” good not just speaking of it, the only way to make real change is to get out there and do it!

Mohan (left) and Ali (right)

And I would like to leave you with one of my favorite original Mohan quotes “We are all born stars covered in skin, but the light we seek can only come from within”.
Instagram @mohanartlajolla
For more info contact: Steve Medoff

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