Drawing on heritage

When the pandemic disrupted a number of domains—including art—most artists willingly resigned to the chaos, and tried to make the best of the situation

author_img Simi Kuriakose Published :  11th October 2022 12:00 AM   |   Published :   |  11th October 2022 12:00 AM
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Images of the textile paintings from ‘Aadiyogi Shiva—A Journey in Cosmic Indigo

When the pandemic disrupted a number of domains—including art—most artists willingly resigned to the chaos and tried to make the best of the situation. Artist Sangeeta Gupta decided to seek refuge in her craft during the unprecedented time by paying homage to her perennial muse, Lord Shiva.

“As an abstract artist, Shiva appeals to me the most. I had been conceptualising this painting since the end of December 2019. It started with me creating hundreds of sketches of Shiva as the ultimate feminist, Ardhnarishwar.”

Her pandemic project is now part of her solo exhibition of textile paintings titled ‘Aadiyogi Shiva—A Journey in Cosmic Indigo’ at the Bikaner House till Oct 12.  

Mythology and heritage coalesce in this show as Gupta draws on heritage Indian crafts to depict the half-man (Shiva) and half-woman (Shakti) incarnation of the Hindu deity. “Khadi and Neel are our very own for ages. Our [Indian] block-printing technique or Chhapa Kala is now becoming extinct. I just wanted to give some new, abstract idioms to our Chhapa Kala, which may be refreshing and contemporary.” 

Organic indigo dye—used as a benign shade as well as in all its intensity—makes its way on Khaddar, a fabric that the artist opted for keeping in mind its natural, sustainable quality. Explaining her methodology, Gupta concludes,

“I first painted with Dabu, a muddy paste with a brush, and then added sawdust on it. After this, I sun-dried the painting, which was then soaked in drums of indigo dye, washed, and dried again. I also dyed the Khaddar—first in light shades of indigo, dried it, and then painted on the cloth again using dark shades of indigo.”

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