Artist Kanika Mukherjee’s ode to the wild

Her upcoming exhibition, Landscape In Cotton will illustrate the remains and wholeness of nature
On display
On display

One painting shows the hillside, a stream of rivers oozing from a spring. Nearby hangs a more detailed portrait of women. Artist Kanika Mukerjee transforms discarded fabric into stunning images that evoke beauty and wonder.

Her landscapes depict the passage of time, capturing transitions from daylight or the stillness of the night. The colour of the fabric emulates water and sky, with frayed edges and woven patterns hinting at natural details like grass or clouds.

From handwoven khadi to sonorous textures, Kanika’s collages remind us of nature’s bounty. Her exhibition titled Landscapes In Cotton is a dizzying, overflowing pageant of a show, designed through an ‘open call’ process to take the pulse of what nature is thinking and making. Kanika, who hails from Gujarat, paints expressive landscapes on canvas using cloth strips as her brushes, skillfully capturing the passionate tints of her surroundings, from the verdant expanse of Valsad near Dharampura to the tribal topography of Southern Gujarat. “I’ve been surrounded by nature all my life,” she begins.

“Nature itself is a painting, where each stroke speaks of vitality. Be it the towering mountains or the tranquil lakes, it’s a living masterpiece. It is home to creatures, from the playful squirrels to the graceful deer, each contributing to what we call or identify as life. The gentle rustle of leaves in the breeze and the melodious chirping of birds soothe the soul and connect us to the natural world. Yet, nature also reminds us of its strength and resilience, with its storms and floods showcasing its raw power. Through its ever-changing character and seasons, nature teaches us valuable lessons of adaptation and perseverance. It is always urging us to embrace its wonders with humility and reverence.”

She has a fondness for landscapes unaltered by human touch. “Residing near both a river and the Arabian Sea, I am constantly immersed in the wonders of nature. So much so, that I’ve spent hours on end — up to 12 straight — transferring its essence onto my collages. I’m particularly drawn to the interplay of light on these pristine scenes, noting how the same spot can appear entirely different depending on the time of the day. Now, whenever I travel, my first order of business is to seek out cotton fabric for my art. Whether it’s handwoven or boasts a variety, I eagerly gather them all for my creative pursuits,” Kanika says.

At times, it begins with colour schemes flickering in her mind, prompting a search for the perfect fabric. On other occasions, she spontaneously cuts strips of cloth, assembling them haphazardly, and observes as something artistic takes shape. Taking regular breaks to contemplate her compositions, she meticulously adheres them to canvas only when feeling content and serene. The outcome is equally tranquillising for the viewer.

Free entry. February 22 to March 11. 6.30 pm. At Goethe Zentrum, Banjara Hills

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