Art, like all other forms of popular media, has an uncanny ability to be open to a multitude of interpretations. Different people decipher the same piece of work in diverse ways. Acclaimed artist Rekha Rodwittiya’s exhibition titled Matters of the Heart, which opens on December 5 at Sakshi Gallery, takes this thought forward and gives art aficionados an opportunity to traverse different worlds.
Unlike other works that usually depict just one object or an individual, Rodwittiya’s creations feature a multitude of personalities whose bodies are filled with a montage of personal narratives and autobiographical imagery, creating an elaborate ‘second skin’.
These intertwining vignettes hold resonances of truths and desires, memories and histories, hope and faith, articulating the universal matters of the heart. For instance, renowned Mexican painter, Frieda Kahlo, who was known for her self-portraits, is shown holding two objects with a Mughal emperor and princess perched on them respectively. Kahlo’s body is mapped with black and white images of herself giving viewers an opportunity to see images of the significant events in her life.
In her long career spanning over 30 years, Rodwittiya has established a strong, politically vigilant feminist practice that has sanctioned her representation of the female figure in a non-voyeuristic manner.
Explaining the inspiration behind this new series of creations, she says, “These works originate from the revisiting of locations that hold the imprints of my past, and which become one of the many jig-saw pieces that form the bigger picture of my life. They are metaphors that evoke parables of survival and empowerment, and which hold the collective stories of many women. I’m engaging with the female body as a territory that holds a multitude of personal and collective female histories. These ‘body tracings’ become sites of deliverance that suggest the significance of acts of resistance and uphold the ideals of female empowerment.”
The exhibition features 17 large images that took Rodwittiya over a year to complete using digital inkjet print, pictures and water colours. Without playing favourites among her creations she says, “The challenge for me is always to hold an impassive critical space that must continuously reassess my work, and must also be able to problematise without compromise. I hold myself to exacting standards as a visual communicator. The process of making an artwork for me is a complex one. Each work holds individual relevance and significance, as well as being structured to be a cohesive assemblage that stands in conversation with one another; and which holds metaphors and evokes associations and meanings that draw into play the life experiences of others.”