Saturday, August 31, 2013

'Jelly with Nuts' by Prajakta Palav Aher

Prajakta Palav Aher explores her life and experiences in the ever-expanding mega-city of Mumbai. The megacity is a machine for the unceasing, untiring churning-out of reality. When the world is too much with us, we lock ourselves into a cocoon and create representations of the real that we can control.

In her new suite of works titled 'Jelly with Nuts', showcased in 'Diver-Cities' at Latitude 28 (2013), Palav delves into a series of paintings that challenge the notion of the Indian wedding pandal (pavilion) in terms of treatment and its inherent ideology and social significance. Pandal is a temporary structure which maintains privacy on busy streets by creating a personal territory which to Palav is akin to a fantastical land.

Retaining the pristine and aesthetic quality associated with the wedding pandal through meticulous rendition, the artist intervenes in a subliminal way to locate fragments of ‘ugliness’ within this space and hence introduce a tenor of disturbance into this protected cocoon. Palav paints every detail from a multitude of photographic references that she has archived over the years. The candid medium of photography allows her to unpretentiously penetrate the many aspects of middle class life in India, and capture its varied truths.

Although the artist's portrayals are realistic, they do not come across as documentaries but instead, allow the viewer to realize the disposition of the situations. Palav traces out using the historical journey in conjunction with urban references of the traditional motifs and their situated recycling and reclamation in the process.

The vibrant Indian motifs like paisley and floral patterns in her work displayed at 'Re-claim, Re-cite, Re-cycle', have traveled from being revered as fabric, jewelry designs to signifying their minor presence interwoven and molded as decorative jaalis in the urban households, which like their diminutive presence in the concrete jungles become the object of trivial mass productions.

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