What happens when two artists — an Indian and a German — share the same passions and interests, and explore concepts of perception and identity in a different light? The result is an exhibition, titled Reflection, comprising paintings, photos, videos and installations that present seemingly simple things in a unique way and drives home the thought that beauty does lie in the eyes of the beholder.
When German artist Alke Reeh came to India in 2009 as part of Max Mueller Bhavan’s residency programme, she spent six months travelling to various parts of the country and soaking in the rich architectural heritage. She could draw parallels between the intricate handiwork on our mosques to that of cupolas in foreign churches. Cupolas are dome-like structures atop buildings that protect them from harsh exterior conditions. She decided to combine her love for architecture and embroidery. The results were ornate teacups that Reeh decorated with crochet patchworks on the inside. When I meet her at the Max Mueller Bhavan Gallery, she turns one of the cups upside down and what seems like an ordinary piece of cutlery suddenly resembles a cupola. Reeh says, “When I looked at the intricate patterns on Indian structures, they resembled textile patterns. This cup, for instance, looks like a rice bowl with the pattern of that of a blue mosque in Istanbul.”
She has also adorned paintings of buildings with embroidery. “The emboidery lends a different flavour. It resembles a window curtain and turns the concrete structure into a home,” she elaborates. But her favourite creation is a giant-sized work hanging from the gallery’s ceiling that resembles a 3D structure due to its reflection on the ceiling’s mirror. She explains, “I wanted to give viewers an idea of looking at parts and then conjuring up the whole image. So I cut pictures of houses and folded them, much like the craft assignments that we did in schools, and then stuck them like a half circle. This lent a pattern to the work.”
On the other hand, Indian artist, Shruti Mahajan, explores the concept of home. Married to an army man, she has shifted homes over the years and was always intrigued by questions of identity and roots. Mahajan met Reeh while the latter was in India and then went to Germany last year for the residency programme. The duo struck a friendship and worked on three exhibitions in Germany. Mahajan has created paintings, a video and clicked photographs for Reflection. She says, “I shot the video when I was staying with my husband at the army cantonment in Kashmir. One can’t go out of the vicinity. So one day, I asked some schoolgirls, who would come there, to show me how did the outside world look through their drawings. I juxtaposed their works with that of a tailor who would stitch clothes of army men. While the tailor believed in taking things slowly, the girls were alive with excitement. They became my window to the world.” Mahajan also did embroidery on gloves to depict lifelines. “I’m not making a political comment. The idea is to have a dialogue with the viewers,” she concludes.
When:Till October 24, 11 am-7 pm
Where: Gallerie Max Mueller, Max Mueller Bhavan, Kala Ghoda