What: Artist Archana Hande’s exhibition titled, I am a Landscape Painter, is a culmination of her journeys through Kutch, Kolkata, Nepal, Rajasthan, Ladakh, Tibet, Pakistan and Australia. A thread that connects these places is shifting identities, resulting from the changing geographical borders and migration.
“The photographs are from my travels to Australia. The black and white images imposed on them are archival. The camel herders or Afghans are a phantom concept in the country today,” explains Hande.
How: "The works tell a fictionalised story based on historical tales, in the same way as collected oral traditions. It mainly discusses the effects of the salt and silk trade route, the camel traders who travelled to Australia from South Asia from 1935 to the 1990s, and trade resulting in the port cities of Mumbai and Kolkata.
“Wherever I travel, I take my watercolour kit with me,” says the artist. These watercolour paintings of Bombay/Mumbai present the artist’s perspective of the port city that is still reeling under the politics of space and changing geography. The artist chose watercolours for Mumbai as she liked the smoothness of the medium which reflects the idea of Mumbai being a metropolis. The artist has also developed an animation piece.
They relate to history yet talk about contemporary issues of identity, migration and hybridity," says Hande. For example, the artist spoke with the children of the camel traders, who were known as Afghan in Australia, who today, are clueless about their connection with India, Sindh and Pakistan. The artist has used various mediums like photographs, textiles, watercolours and paper to run a parallel idea with the theme of the artwork.
Salt/Silk trade route, Year: 2002-2015, Excerpts from the book, All is fair in Magic white, Block print on Nepal paper. “Places such as Bombay and Gujarat were considered to be the Manchesters of the East. Traders connected them to other areas such as Nepal and block prints are seen till today in all these regions. Which is why I chose block print on Nepal paper,” says Archana Hande.
Where: Till January 6
At Chemould Prescott Road gallery, third floor, Queens Mansion, Fort.