Artist’s Statement – Beyond Mithila: Exploring the Decorative 2008-11




“Cultural theorist David Harvey believes that “Heritage is, in fact, not      specific to the modern world but has always been with us”. He sees it as human condition, and suggests that every society has relationship with past –“even those who have chosen to ignore it”[Harvey:2001:320:337]. And it’s this relationship with the past that individuals and group use, evoke and distort in the general process of living. This happened three thousand years ago and just as it happens now.”


My present body of work is like a fantasy of heritage, patterns and confluence of traditional art forms and references of embroideries and embellishments from India. I like to explore and reinterpret indigenous decorative traditions within my art practice. This decorative style of art that I do is actually like revisiting the past. To me as a contemporary artist and a creative individual, heritage refers to all that one inherits. The ideas, designs and patterns eventually becomes a connection with visual medium and other creative expressions. Just as most scholars agree that conscious understanding of the past with an emphasis on conserving it is typically 20th century response to the industrial revolution, I strongly feel heritage art conservation is intrinsic to sustainable development and growth to the art form by contemporary artists with the knowledge and plethora of different mediums available to them.The other side of this coin is that I have an intense interest in visual and textile craft. I love pattern, and pattern within pattern: not only the suave and decorative forms of folk art compositions but also the reproduction of tapestries, embroideries, silks, motifs, the bright clutter of vegetable pigments, within the paintings reminding me of intermingling traditions.

Hence, my idea of Mithila art is very romantic.To me, this style appeals to the senses rather than the intellect. It stresses beauty over depth. This decorative style is ornamental, the bold line work has an aesthetic appeal and is hyper elaborate in form.

Traditionally Mithila art was done by women and ‘woman’ is associated with feminity of needle work, knitting, knotting, weaving and related activities which demand exactitude and patience.As a contemporary woman artist , I am further exploring the ornamentation of painted and hand blocked canvas with elements of traditional embellishments and embroideries like ‘kantha’ from Calcutta and ‘zardozi’ which is specific to Persian embroidery from the Mughal period.
The preferred themes that I have presented are of romance, mythology, fantasy, every day life to historical or religious subject matter. Other elements of this style that I have incorporated are a playful use of line, bold coloring and influence of textile design and patterning.This is a form of ‘Hybridization’in a positive sense is just like Homi Bhabha does it in his post Colonial studies.

Conceptually, the work has 21st century appeal of the folk art. My quest to translate the folk art with contemporary theme is conscious. It is this relationship of folk art that enables me to understand the past and theorise the present within my art premises.To me,‘Beyond Mithila: Exploring the Decorative’ is all about a spiritual experience in 21st century of the art that belonged to 7th the century.