I grew up in a hindu family in post colonial India. I studied in a convent school run by a christian missionary. At home I absorbed concepts of Hinduism and in school I learned about Christianity. At home I spoke Hindi and in school I interacted in English. I lived in two worlds and moved between them with ease.
This hybrid identity however comes with a price. I am not completely at home in Indian culture because I have had western influences that shaped my thinking. At the same time I am not at ease in the west because it is not my home. I understand Robin Coste Lewis’ search for identity as she struggles to bring together fragments of herself in her book “Voyage of the Sable Venus”. This search for self took me from India to London to study MA Fine Art at Chelsea College of Art and has brought me to United States to study MFA in Art at California Institute of the Arts.
Lewis’ book “Voyage of the Sable Venus” is comprised of the titles of Western art objects in which a black female figure is present. She realized that museums had removed many 19th century historically-specific markers such as Negro or slave from their titles and replaced these words with African American. Lewis re-erases this erasure of history of violence by replacing the word African American and changing the titles back. I am in a similar manner trying to reclaim my history by making considered choices of materials that I use in my work. I am replacing the canvas which is the base of my paintings with handwoven Khadi cloth. Khadi is handspun cotton made by women in villages in India. Khadi was an initiative of Gandhi to resist the British who were using India as a market for their goods. Gandhi urged Indians to buy local products. I am also replacing chemical based paints made by global giants that I have been using with local handmade pigments made in India.
Jamaica Kincaid in her book “A Small Place” writes
(For isn’t it odd that the only language I have in which to speak of this crime is the language of the criminal who committed the crime?)
Gesture is the beginning of language. Even before we started communicating in words with others of our species, we were communicating with the more than human world with our bodies.
My paintings comprise simple hand drawn lines which are imperfect and flawed. The intricate patterns of my paintings invite the viewer to slow down, to look and experience the physical world through her senses and body.
Through my work I want to create a renewed interest in the organic which would create an interest in the local and handmade products. It is an attempt to make way for an ecological economy which has at its heart not a distant vision of progress but an awareness of other forms of sentience and sensibility that inhabit the present with us.