You art what you wear

Updated: 14 December, 2019 08:59 IST | Dalreen Ramos | Mumbai

Exploring the intersection between art and fashion, a Mumbai duo collaborates on creations of canvas and fabric for a one-day showcase

The pieces were made in response to D'mello's artwork
The pieces were made in response to D'mello's artwork

Last week, a banana duct-taped to a wall was sold for $1,20,000. The installation at Art Basel titled Comedian by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan not only caused controversy after performance artist David Datuna ate the fruit because he was hungry, but also confusion and rage over what constitutes art. Today, city-based artist Oona D'mello and designer Sohni Patel attempt to showcase a similar exploration. No, they haven't gone bananas, but have rather pushed themselves to extend the definition of art.

Pieces never tell the whole story, House of Sohn
Pieces never tell the whole story, House of Sohn

D'mello is a visual artist with a fine arts degree from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Patel, on the other hand, trained at the ateliers of Nanette Lepore, Marchesa and Duro Olowu in New York before founding House of Sōhn (HoS), a womenswear label. Four months ago, the city-based duo embarked on a collaboration called Est. Form. "I came across her work online and liked that she used fabric and text. The exhibition, per se, was not the primary agenda. We were thinking of a capsule collection but realised that we could do so much more. We wanted to expand the idea of art as just being something that comes off a wall," Patel, 29, shares.

Sohni Patel
Sohni Patel

The showcase at The Stands (formerly Bungalow 8) in SoBo will see a series of paintings and interactive installations, HoS clothing developed as a response to the artwork, and four pieces of wearable art, which represents the fine line between art and fashion. "For me, as an artist, the primary difference is intent. Fashion is made to flatter while a painting is purely a means of self-expression," D'mello says. For the 31-year-old, form always comes first. And in this display, she plays on the idea of what is precious and what isn't. "I've used a lot of enamel paint along with muslin silk and organza that renders a synthetic look. At some places the fabric is completely hidden," she adds.

Artist Oona D'mello at her studio in Mumbai
Artist Oona D'mello at her studio in Mumbai

This cross-disciplinary process also required some unlearning for Patel. Being a designer entailed taking into account markets and technique; she had to think about cuts and folds and how people would respond to every decision she made. "I had to let go of my rigidity and it's funny now when I think about the result. My clothing line is for women, but the work that germinated from this project also turned out to be androgynous and unisex."

As for the wearable art that takes shape as sculptural silhouettes, both collaborators understand that it's a concept at a nascent level of understanding. But through Est. Form, they hope to make it more accessible and work with more disciplines — be it dance or architecture. D'mello adds, "Visual art is an isolated space where you're working on your own. But wearable art is symbiotic in itself. If I wasn't in the room when Sohni planned working on it, or if she wasn't there when I did, this would've never happened. So, you need someone in the room to make
this happen."

On Today, December 14, 4 pm to 8 pm
At The Stands, inside Wankhede Stadium, Churchgate.
Email (to RSVP)

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First Published: 14 December, 2019 07:30 IST

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