The Piercing Needle

The Piercing

January 2016 

A solo exhibition of recent works – using Textiles, Video, Installation and Text

Presented by Presented by Gallery Sanskriti, Kolkata

Topography of a Stitched Landscape

Tracing the history of textiles in India it is interesting to see how practices gradually broke away from the traditional space to occupy centre stage, for some contemporary artists. The needle became the brush, seeking to illuminate, provoke and create an identity that went beyond the feminine domain. Needlework, associated for long with the feminine and domestic embroidery, now became experimental and contemporary, occupying a unique place in the art scene. As one of the leading practitioners, Gopika Nath strikes out in a new direction which is both provocative and innovative. She uses photography, digital printing on fabric, alongside techniques that involve burning, layering, shredding, as well as embroidering on cotton voile, silk organza and other ephemeral fabrics. She re-contextualizes the notions of stitching as an art into a wholly new space. Through her stitched narrative both traditions of craft and contemporary conceptual undertakings meld fluidly. Her compositions, layered and delicate combine sutures, colour, texture, and a surface detailing that make the work appear both as a fragment of detail and an overall map of definition.

Working within the ancient framework of embroidery, Gopika acknowledges that she has been deeply influenced by the writings of Ananda K. Coomaraswamy. Her own work as a textile designer, as well as her personal experience of working with craftsmen, led her to explore dimensions of hand-crafting as a return towards that time in ancient India where it was not what you did that made it an art but how you did it which made everything from cooking to weaving an art – a world, where the prevalent notions of art and craft did not exist.

Through colonial influences, embroidery has become associated with the feminine, but Gopika’s art transcends this – using thread, fabric and stitch to speak the language of contemporary art. Deeply autobiographical, her work presents art as cathartic and healing through searing honesty in the microscopic examination of self.  In sharing the textures of her wounds, she reaches out towards healing macro dimensions of the universe. Through her art Gopika inhabits the diverse pluralism of a lyrical elsewhereness and the earthiness of the immediate and now. The layers of fabric bind memories and metaphors. The ascetic severities of her medium, notwithstanding, you get a glimpse of an inner romantic self.  The topography of Gopika Nath’s stitched landscape now spreads before you, its contour lines and pressure graphs mapping her private journey. Nostalgia and hope form a part of her visionary landscape. The glittering cosmic view intimately framed in a miniature format which seeks to deliberately dissolve, rather than replicate, the visible.  Her works are an abstractionist’s psalm; sparsely ascetic and spiritual.

Ina Puri

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