Alka Mathur, who has created a body of work inspired by the vernacular practices of natural dyeing and kantha stitching, says she is moved by the natural elements that surround her and draws much from her deep Rajasthani roots.
“I am moved by natural elements, including the earth, sky, clouds, light and water. I also have a deep relationship with crafts, textiles rooting back to my birthplace of Rajasthan. I often used block printing, natural dyeing techniques and stitching in my work to represent an abstracted reality on paper or cloth,” Mathur said.
She has showcased her canvas at an ongoing solo exhibition titled “Tea Time Under the Blue Sky” at The Art Gallery in Bikaner House that is drawing a significant number of visitors.
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Sharing her passion for art, she fondly recalled: “As far back as I can remember I have always painted and created artworks. I formalised this passion by attending the Sir J.J School of Arts in Mumbai in the 1970s and have been exhibiting my work in India and internationally since.”
Her serene paintings are a response to everything she considers home, beginning with the physical land from where she originates — Rajasthan — the contours and the cracks in the parched land, the flow of flooding waters and sweeping clouds, the patterns of seeds and the shape of plants and the spiritual forces which imbue the land, to the comfort she associates with having a cup of tea, be it by herself or as a social activity.
On her exhibition, she said: “My latest series of works actually span a time frame of over 10 years. The works are inspired by my daily life as well as my travels in those years. Often flying in an aircraft I photograph what I see from the window down below, or through the window of a train, or a car (or whatever).”
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Mathur has been able to reinvent her deep-rooted love for earth forms again and again. “I believe my work lies between the traditional and the contemporary, both in terms of style, and the final form the work takes,” she said.
“In this exhibition I have juxtaposed selected digital images I have been photographing over many years with cloth works that incorporate natural dyeing, kantha stitching and found objects. Alongside I have designed an installation of my tea journals that in themselves visually are a mix of the contemporary and traditional,” she said.
Her future plans “include experimenting more with images that I photograph, videos I shoot along with new explorations of traditional techniques”.
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