Hriati Ralte | July 2023 | Interview |

We met Hriati Ralte at the Lunglei Arts Festival held during February 2023, and we were immediately captivated by her whimsical yet profound art pieces. She is deeply inspired by nature, and her work delves into the subtleties of human emotions and explores the psyche of the human mind, often employing smears and broad deliberate strokes to convey her vision.

We had a lovely chat with the artist to talk about her life, her influences, and her aspirations as a creative. With her striking elfin looks and quiet, assured charm, she has an ethereal presence, much like the art that she creates.

Artist Hriati Ralte from Lunglei, Mizoram

Artist Hriati Ralte from Lunglei, Mizoram

MPV: Hello Hriati. Thank you for doing this interview with us. We love your work! Can you tell us about yourself, your background, education and hobbies etc?

Hriati: Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity to introduce myself as an artist. 

My name is Lalhriatchhungi Ralte, my friends and family call me Hriati. I live in Serkawn, Lunglei with my family, and I have done my Bachelor of Science in Geology, and Bachelor of Education.

Growing up, I was a very introverted and quiet child, to the point where people would remark “Tawng nachang a hrelo a nih hi!” (She doesn’t have the sense to talk!) I’ve come out of my shell a bit, but I’m never going to be that extroverted loud girl.

I have loved singing for as long as I remember, not that I am particularly good at it though. I remember that I used to sing to the top of my lungs at home when I was little. I also enjoy watering my mother’s flowers, cleaning our home, and when we were younger, I used to love cycling with my two younger brothers. We lost my younger brother Jonathan in May of last year, and talking about all these makes me so nostalgic about our childhood. Oh, I almost forgot to mention, we used to love playing ‘Bai Lem Chhum’ (a traditional childhood game/pastime in which a group of kids gather in someone’s garden, or in some nearby woods with groceries, utensils etc, and they start a fire between an improvised three stone stove with matchsticks, wood and sometimes a bit of kerosene, and would start cooking. This is followed by a feast of all the haphazardly cooked food, easily one of the best meals in any Mizo child’s life.)

Bumblebee & Poppy by Hriati Ralte

MPV: How did you get started in art and painting? How has the journey been so far?

Hriati: Although I dabbled in arts & craft from my school days, I started really practising art the year I graduated from college. I lost my father when I was in college, and many of my friends left town to pursue higher education outside, and I started to turn to art to fill the void that I felt with all these major life changes.

After working as a High School teacher for two years at Serkawn Sikulpui, I enrolled at District Institute of Education and Training (DIET), Lunglei to pursue Bachelor of Education where I was delighted to learn that we had an Art Class! Our Art teacher Sir James Khamliansawma (James the Sculptor) was instrumental in renewing my interest in art. He really encouraged me along in my art journey, and I am forever indebted to him for his mentorship.

MPV: What and who are your biggest inspirations in art?

Hriati: I find inspiration in the works of Vincent van Gogh, and the biopic ‘At Eternity’s Gate’ really shifted and elevated my experience of art, and my approach to my own works.

“I am also deeply inspired by the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, whose self-portraits often include interpretations of physical and psychological wounds. Her famous quote “I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best” really resonates with me and my experience as an artist.”

Untitled by Hriati Ralte

Abstract Self Portrait by Hriati Ralte

MPV: Your thoughts on Art?

Hriati: In my opinion there is no such thing as good or bad art. There is only art that you personally like or dislike. You cannot speak for the taste of other people. Today’s bad art is tomorrow’s good art. Some art just isn’t appreciated in its time. There is nothing more precious than the act of pouring out one’s heart and soul to express oneself. So, for all the artist out there, be true to yourself, whether people like it or not, give yourself time to communicate with your soul, and you will have peace despite rejection or disapproval. 

“A person reading this is also a great work of art, not everyone will understand you, but the ones who do will never forget about you.”

MPV: Tell us about your love affair with poppies? 

Hriati: Talking about poppies always gets me extremely emotional because it transports me back to my carefree childhood days, with our mother’s garden which used to be bursting with poppy flowers. Oh, how I used to love looking at the beautiful bright red flowers and playing among them. It was a time when all my family was still alive, and that makes me even more nostalgic. The poppy will forever remain my favorite flower.

“From my rotting body, flowers shall grow and I am in them, and that is eternity.” Edvard Munch

MPV: Your favorite quote?

Hriati: “I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.” – Vincent van Gogh

To love another human being, I think, is one of the greatest things on Earth, and as The Bible says “God is love.”

“Because we humans don’t love each other enough, there are wars, ethnic conflicts and so many clashes among us. That is the sad reality of the world that we live in. I think there is nothing more artistic than feelings of pure love towards the world and the people in it.”

MPV: Are you active in the Mizo artist community? Do you attend workshops, seminars etc?

Hriati: I am not too active yet, but I would love to integrate myself more in the art community in the years to come. I love the works of Mizo artists such as Pu Tlangrokhuma and Sir James Khamliansawma, who is an excellent sculptor. I also loved the work of my fellow artists that I met during the Lunglei Arts Festival.

A Girl From Mars by Hriati Ralte

MPV: We love your remarkable piece ‘A Girl from Mars.’ Can you tell us more about it?

Hriati: ‘A Girl from Mars’ originated from a very vivid dream that I once had. In this dream (which felt like real life), an UFO was hovering just above the ground on our frontyard. I was standing on the verandah, and I was frantically looking for my phone to click a picture of the UFO. When I woke, my hands were flailing around looking for my phone. When I found my phone and opened it, I went looking for the picture, but it was not there. Years later, I imagined myself being abducted by the UFO and taken to Mars from where I had a vantage view of the world, and watched all the ugly side of human nature which I have depicted in the painting. It is a mirror image, so you can only read what’s written on it when you hold it on front of a mirror.

Hriati Ralte at the Lunglei Arts Festival, 2023

MPV: Ok we are curious about one thing. Why did you choose Banditos as your artist name?

Hriati: Bandito is a word of Mexican origin that means rebel or outlaw. It is this spirit that I always want to incorporate in my art, to be a rebel who does not bow down to the societal norms of what is considered ‘good art.’ And bandits are marauders who steal other people’s things. I wish to capture and steal people’s hearts and feelings through my art.

Untitled by Hriati Ralte

MPV: And lastly, how was your experience with the Lunglei Arts Festival? Any pointers/suggestions for us? What according to you are the things that we could have done better? 

Hriati: Lunglei Arts Festival was the first ever art related event that I have participated in and it was an amazing experience and a real eye-opener for me. I was so inspired by all the beautiful artworks of my fellow artists in Lunglei. I thank the organizers for their handholding, and also thank everyone who appreciated and bought my art.

Just one feedback, I just wish that the notification could have come earlier so that us artists can have more time to prepare and focus on our art.


Interviewed by Ruati Chhangte, Editor, MeanPepperVine.


Hriati Ralte is a painter and handmade jewellery artist from Serkawn, Lunglei. She is deeply intrigued and inspired by nature, the human psyche, and the works of artists Vincent van Gogh and Frida Kahlo.

You can access more of her works through her Instagram.


Find The Mean Journal on Instagram @MeanPepperVine

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