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HISTORICAL ROOTS AND.... CONTEMPORARY PERSPECTIVES
[ Sept/Oct.1999 ]

Curator's Note

The thematic exhibition entitled ‘Dedicated to Mother Earth’ was a spontaneous, decision, to bring integrity into diversity and a universal approach to a very very traditional medium.

The main aim of this exhibition was to focus on a new & important situation existing in contemporary Indian Art & Design – where a number of artists, designers & craftspersons have been using textile/fibre to fulfill their creative urge.

In the Rigveda & the Upanishads the universe is envisioned as a fabric woven by the Gods. Intrinsically fabricated into a lifestyle of a traditional home, ancient Indian Textiles such as the Kantha’s, Ganesh Sthapanas, Nathdwara Pichwai’s, Golconda Tree of life, Chamba Rumal & Kalamkari hangings are some exclusive examples that reflect an intense aesthetic sensibility which to my mind form the essential components that trace the historical roots of ‘Textile Art in India’ ( to confirm the fact that it was an ancient art practice & not a recent phenomenon).

Contemporary Textiles in India - today largely witnesses a co-existent movement between the traditional & the modern – indicating a complex and multifaceted view that needs a specific examination. Far removed from the origins – traditional Indian textiles (which were valued objects in a home & truly a labour of love) today caters to a consumerist clientele. The repurcussions were bound to be detrimental as increased commercialism rapidly paved way for a crisis in the disappearance of quality in skills.

Contemporary / Modern India textile designers are our natural hope for safe-guarding, these dyeing skills & not just that, but in coming across as (much like their counterpart in the west) re-thinking material, technologies & design of the past – as well as allowing for this most tactile medium, a free reign for artistic exploration.

In the global context ‘Contemporary Textile Art in India’, as I take the liberty to coin it – is a term that is fraught with controversies. To be more explicit – Textile art even as a borrowed terminology from the west, couldn’t be more ‘indigenous’ as compared to other adopted mediums such as oil on canvas, printmaking, photography, etc. employed long ago by successful Indian Artists.

Against this background, the emerging global trends & promotion of Indian arts & crafts abroad have steadily led to an awareness among our connoisseurs – of the beginning of a promising & avant garde situation that not only sought to question the status of the craftsmen with whom our designers work so closely – but also indicate a need to bridge the arrogant barriers between the craftsmen & the artist.

I see this new position as quite a logical sequence of occurrence. Therefore in an attempt to bring together as a cohesive whole, I have selected a group of artists, designers & craftperson's whose language comes from the tradition of textiles & yet what they present are their personalised ideas that give this medium a completely new dimension & make it a poignant art of our times.

Nita Thakore

 

Artists Statement

“I work with needle and thread, as a Contemporary Urban Craftsperson / Textile Artist. My view as expressed in these works, on the theme of “ A Dedication to Mother Earth,” which is evocative of the concern that we all have for the degradation of our natural environment, is not intended to be a vision of the holocaust, as is conjured up by environmentalists. I believe that life must run its course and each of us plays our chosen roles.


My role as an artist, as defined by me, is not to highlight the ‘pain’, the ‘hurt’ and the negative emotions that we all experience in life, but to attempt to transcend them to still be able to see beauty and joy in little things that do surround us even when we have lost something we loved and cherished, or something familiar whose loss is felt upon its death or dearth. The idea being to continue to celebrate life, but perhaps with a better sense of what we do have and greater appreciation for it. This is my dedication to mother Earth: a representation of some of natures exquisite creatures, designed in resplendent colour, delicately fashioned and encapsulated in minuscule form. Beauty that is fragile and easily destroyed, but beauty that is a delight to those who have the subtlety of perception and therefore the privilege to see and experience. Today this beauty exists, threatened by the lack of that subtlety, surrounded by life that overpowers by its large, loud, voice and form, whose very existence threatens the fragile and subtle and also serves to highlight the delicay of the same. Life is a paradox – so be it !”

Gopika Nath