It was around three years ago that Ghiora Aharoni stumbled upon some love letters written by his mother in the 1950s as a 15-year-old adolescent in Israel. Half a century later, these letters have acted as inspiration for the Israeli artist’s latest collection of artworks, titled Missives.
Aharoni’s artworks comprises embroidered Phulkaris (a traditional sewing art from Punjab) that emboss the original letters along with collages of vintage photographs that the artist collected from across the country as part of his journey, into his and other people’s memories. Aharoni’s story explores culture, time, history, longing and the passage of time, through the symbolic artworks that aim to stir the imagination.
Speaking about the exhibition, Aharoni says, “Both my parents passed away early and reading my mother’s memories through the letters was an overwhelming experience. When a childhood friend handed me the box with the letters, I had no idea what was inside. That’s what led to the exhibition. The landscape of images offer a window to the memories making it a memory project of sorts.”
The artworks and installations include crumpled letters, a collage of vintage photographs and letters displayed upside down with notes mentioning the date, embroidered Phulkaris with snippets of Hebrew text from the letters as well as digitally printed reproductions of the letters on crumpled Japanese paper (as a metaphor for concealed feelings). Aharoni admits that there are two major narratives evident in Missives: his mother’s love object and his love for India.
The globetrotter artist lives and works in New York City and has extensively travelled across India. Recalling his first trip to the multicultural country, he says, “I landed in Delhi a decade ago, at 2 am on a smog-filled, humid day. I inhaled the smog and felt at home. That kept me coming year after year.”
Aharoni is also an architect and a designer and his art reflects his preoccupation through images of structures. While Missives will mark Aharoni’s first solo exhibition in India, he hopes to take it to other countries as well. His next exhibition, he reveals, will feature seven sculptures and is inspired by the genesis and the intersection of religion and science.