Colour blizzard: 3-year-old painter gears up for gallery exhibition

At three years old, Saint John's Adviat Kolarkar is about to hold his second gallery exhibition. He creates abstract works in his parents' apartment that sell for up to $500.

Advait Kolarkar started painting before he was a year old, favouring an abstract, hands-on style

Advait Kolarkar started painting before he was a year old, favouring an abstract, hands-on style. 0:35

Like other three-year-olds, Advait Kolarkar loves dinosaurs. He also loves reading, avoids baths and gets wrapped up in watching cartoons while his parents are busy with chores. 

But unlike most three-year-olds, his second exhibition at an art gallery is coming up, and he sells his paintings for more than $500.

"When he was one year old, he was making a lot of compositions on the floor, which grabbed our attention, and we thought, 'Oh, that should be on a canvas,'" Advait's mother, Shruti, said in their Saint John apartment.

Advait's paintings are abstract washes of colour, arranged in thick layers. While many kids fingerpaint, Advait's finished products are strikingly well-composed and have garnered the attention of the City of Saint John Gallery, which plans an exhibition of his work in January.

Natural talent

Advait began painting before he could properly grip a brush, so he is drawn to painting with his hands, Shruti said. He now uses squirt bottles, combs, rollers and even his toy dinosaurs to make intricate patterns on canvas. 

Shruti said Advait has a "natural talent" that came from very little instruction. 

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      "It is naturally coming to him," she said. "Later we thought it might come from whatever is in our family. My ancestors, some of them are artists. ... We don't instruct him, and no one in our home is allowed to instruct him. He is free to do whatever he wants."

      Whatever he is doing, he is doing it purposefully.- Shruti   Kolarkar , Advait's mother

      She said he has also shown stages of progression in his work and attention to what he is making.

      "Now he's started naming his paintings," she said. "He sees different forms in there. … Initially he just used to spread colours and later he began talking about forms in the paintings. Whatever he is doing, he is doing it purposefully."

      Small beginnings

      By the time he was two, Advait completed 50 paintings and gained the attention of an art gallery in Pune, India, that featured his work, with one painting in the exhibition selling for more than $500.

      Advait's family moved to Saint John seven months ago from Pune when his father Amit got a job in the city.

      ​Shruti reached out to Saint John's cultural affairs officer, Bernard Cormier, for advice on how to get materials and somewhere to display her son's paintings.

      Impressed with the work, Cormier helped organize the January exhibition. The exhibition will be titled "Colour Blizzard," a name Advait chose himself.

      Three-year-old Advait Kolarkar sits in his studio, surrounded by his work. (Ben Silcox/CBC)

      "Generally a blizzard destroys anything, but this time the blizzard is creating something," Shruti said.

      Shruti said Advait is still young enough that he has trouble grasping the idea of people wanting to buy and display his art.

      "He has no idea," she said. "He knows that his paintings are going to be displayed, so he's happy about that. … He knows what's an exhibition. He just loves that people are looking at his paintings."

      Advait dips his hand in paint as he begins a new piece. (Ben Silcox/CBC)