Exploring 'The Nest'

Exploring 'The Nest'

- Aditi Ghildiyal

self-photo

Manju Mohanadas, a poem from memory (O.N.V.'s poem)I, Ink on rice paper, 14h x 21w inches, 2020

A home should be understood as a multidimensional concept. Literature too describes home diversely as conflated with or related to a house, family, haven, self, gender, and journeying. It defies being restricted merely within the ambit of physicality as it is more of a destination and an anchor to our true self, our identity and existence. The periphery of our house is what shelters us from the sanctimonious gaze of the world.

But what if our little paradise of on earth becomes a space of contention?

This is where the idea of ‘The Nest’ as a visual enquiry came about. The exhibition explores the concept of ‘The Nest’ (a home) in both its literal and metaphorical contexts through the artworks of eight artists from across the country. Like a bird meticulously and lovingly weaves her nest together, similarly evolution has fashioned women to be the nurturing and compassionate nest makers/keepers of their home. It was a parallel that was staring at me right in the eyes as I delved deeper into the subject. Hence a female perspective became the core methodology of investigation and that’s how a group of eight phenomenal women artists was gathered. It was the female consciousness that could provide unsullied and honest answers.

self-photo

Moutushi Chakraborty, Migrant Homes,  Pen and Ink, 11h x 8.5w inches, 2020

History and literature have documented the evolving roles of women through ages in the context of home. But there was always a perpetual need to elevate women on a high moral pedestal, expected to be angelic figures- innocent and docile, physically weaker thus restricted within the walls of the house – looking after their families. A fine example of this will be the nineteenth century poem The Angel in the House by Coventry Patmore that narrated the ideal perception of a wife during the Victorian era. As time changed women became more empowered and shared the equal burden on finances at home. Today women are hustling more responsibilities than ever, yet the major share of household labor is still the prerogative of a female. It is to be considered a quintessential necessity to achieve the cookie-cutter happily ever after life.

What’s certainly fascinating is how architecture becomes a marker of identity defining the role of women in her house. She is associated with and defined by and somewhat restricted to certain areas of the house. This phenomenon can be observed more minutely within the lower middle class, working class and the poor but we should not overlook cultural and regional ethnicity which supersedes class disparity. The kitchen and the bedroom become the primary domain of a woman while men are associated with the living area and garage. Other spaces do not entail gender affiliations as such. Also one cannot ignore the role Patriarchy plays in deepening such myths and assumptions.

All in all, a home and its interpretations are always in a state of flux. They become an abstract consortium of emotions - solace and agony, sanctuary and abyss, a cloud upon the rainbow and the burning fire beneath the earth. Artists, poets and writers have forever been fascinated by its complexities and thus this shall always remain a topic of debate for ages.

self-photo

Dimple Shah, Stainless Steel Nirvana - Path of Atmanirbhar (Performance still), Digital Print on ArchivalPaper, A3, Edition 1/5, 2020

Dimple Shah through her performance presents a satire on the domestic condition of women during the COVID-19 pandemic. She does this by drawing a parallel between the ritualistic nature of household chores and the belief of repetition as a tool and an act to help attain nirvana across different philosophies.

self-photo

Moutushi Chakraborty, Migrant Soul 1, Pen and Ink, 11h x 8.5w inches, 2020

Moutushi Chakraborty’s works reiterate and reinforce the deep-rooted gender discrepancies institutionalized by our society. In this particular series, voluptuous female forms are found to carry the burden of building a home on their shoulders. It depicts these women as strong and fearless figures marching towards fulfilling their commitment.

self-photo

Nirali Lal, Withdrawal Symptoms/ Lockdown Cuckoos 2 (Set of 3), Watercolour on 300 gsm archival paper, 8h x 18w inches total (8h x 6w inches each), 2020

Nirali Lal presents us with 'Withdrawal Symptoms/ Lockdown Cuckoos,’ her ongoing series of portraits of women across age groups, comfortably nested in their homes during the lockdown. These portraits provided her a palpable way of feeling connected to the outside world and breaking the bane of isolation.

self-photo

Sonali Laha, Impression 01, Tempera on Canvas, 10h x 8w inches, 2020

Sonali Laha delves in the obscure nature of time and its consequences on human mind. Tracing the depths in her memory she paints fleeting moments that leave a mark on our subconscious. The women in her paintings are mostly engaged in an introspective gaze within a domestic setting, alone and docile.

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Bhartti Verma, Through the eyes of the beholder, Oil on Canvas, 48h x 36w inches, 2020

Bhartti Verma’s paintings have an immersive quality to them often serenading the viewer into her world. Her interiors show signs of habitation and abandonment, giving us an intriguing glimpse of the outside world, seemingly distant and lustful at the same time.

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Jitha Karthikeyan, Can one hear the stories of the mind?Oil on Canvas, 44h x 56w inches, 2020

Jitha Karthikeyan’s works stem from her personal experiences thus carry an intimate narrative subjective to a woman’s standing in a domestic Indian establishment. Her works question social issues, identity politics and mundane realities all from a female perspective.

self-photo

Manju Mohanadas, drawings inmother tongue – 1, Ink on rice paper, 14h x 14w inches, 2020

Manju Mohanadas’s art practice explores the idea of home beyond an address or space. It is a transient map that is constantly drawing connections between cultures, geographies, languages, and collective histories. In her recent series of work done in the traditional sumi ink painting practice in the 'xie - yi' style, Manju explores the medium while also incorporating her native script.

self-photo

Sonatina Mendes, Untitled 6, Watercolour on Paper, 12.5h x 9.5w inches, 2020

Sonatina sees the spectacular in the mundane and relevance in the inconspicuous objects and corners of her dwelling. These become fascinating avenues of exploration for her artistically. Observing the artist’s works is like embarking upon a spiritual journey, coming across subtle indicators, guiding us to experience zen.

Aditi Ghildiyal is a writer and curator based in Delhi. She completed her M.V.A in Art History and Aesthetics with a specialization in Indian Painting from Faculty of Fine Art, MSU, Baroda in 2011-13 and B.F.A in Painting from College of Art, New Delhi in 2007-11.

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