Down to Earth

An exhibition seeks to highlight terracotta as a medium of contemporary art

Written by Pallavi Pundir | Published:May 28, 2013 3:44 am

Step into the cool,dark interiors of NIV Art Centre in Neb Sarai and the phrase,“Earth to earth,ashes to ashes,dust to dust,” strikes one strongly. On one side of the exhibition space,the marble floor is strewn with what looks like dried leaves shed from an invisible tree. Look closer and one notices that these are intricately moulded terracotta leaves,lying atop each other in a mound,each leaf glazed until grey. The walls,on the other hand,are a reminder of our domestic lives with displays that include grocery bags laden with terracotta vegetables. Taking off from our country’s rich inheritance of terracotta,these are among 68 works that are a part of “Mysterious Terracotta”,an exhibition that seeks to revive the ancient medium of art.

The show started with a series of workshops with 16 Delhi-based women artists such as Arpana Caur,Nupur Kundu and Anupam Sud,along with about 30 children from NIV Vidya Mandir in Noida,earlier this year. The exhibition has been organised by Rahul Modak,a terracotta artist from West Bengal,who is also exhibiting his works here,and has been curated by visual artist Rajan Shripad Fulari. “Terracotta is a prehistoric medium but if you want to see it in a contemporary context,you wouldn’t see much. This show is a means to show that terracotta can be a contemporary art medium as well,” says Fulari.

It appears intriguing that the show is restricted only to women artists. Fulari explains that the exhibition is also a vehicle to highlight gender issues,especially after last year’s Delhi gang rape. The “Mysterious” in the title also assumes a new meaning with the involvement of women and children. “When you work with terracotta,you don’t know when it’s going to break since it’s so fragile. There’s a similar sense of mystery around women and children,” says Fulari.

With the artists coming from different backgrounds,one sees personal narratives in the show. There’s Caur’s Partition,a tablet which depicts feet on barbed wire,while Sud combines her forte as a printmaker with terracotta in her works. The series of leaves as a motif has been created by Modak.

The section on children’s works,contains nostalgic imageries in terracotta. “We hope that more people take up the medium,especially in schools and colleges,” says Fulari.

Mysterious Terracotta is on at NIV Art Centre,210 Neb Sarai till July 7 from 11 am to 7 pm

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