Why does the woman always play a supporting role in mythology,” questions Rithika Merchant, Barcelona-based watercolourist who changes this custom in her second solo exhibition of 34 paintings, Mythography, at Gallery Art and Soul.
For the past two years, the 27-year-old painter has reinterpretedstories and characters, taking inspiration from mythological characters from various cultures and creating her own philosophy.
“Mythography involves a conversation with Joseph Campbell’s theory of the ‘Hero/Monomyth’ as well as the exploration of epics across geography. I create a myth that discusses a woman as a hero,” explains Merchant, whose paintings resemble paper murals, and some of the paintings are cut across to form tiles and shapes.
“Art deco, botanical illustrations, Gond tribal art and artiste Antoni Gaudí inspire my work. Though watercolour works are considered ‘lower’ to oil paintings, watercolours have so much nuance. I have incorporated ink pen sketching with the medium,” adds Merchant.
Be it the African myth that creation stems from within or nothing,or the Noah’s Ark in Christianity or Matsya Vishnu’s in Hinduism,Merchant’s paintings see a repetitive presence of botanical and animal structures such as roots, leaves, trees, ravens, owls, felines woven into Latin American, Greek, African, Indian and even Nordic mythologies. Walk into the gallery and see a different perspective to the childhood myths your granny told you about.