A new art show here looks at the historical and contemporary narratives around Indian spices while adding economic, social and political dynamics to their traditional connotations of taste and aroma.
Curated by art writer Georgina Maddox, the “Peppery Soliloquies” at Delhi-based Art Centrix Space uncovers and investigates the notions and texture of spice through the artworks of nine artists.
While Arunkumar HG’s papier-mâché sculptures of star anise spice — or “chakri phool” — looks at the colonial history and contemporary issues around the spice and its production, Karl Antao revisits the erotic nature of spices with a sculpture of two recumbent flower pots morphing into seed like structures and then pods of a flowering garlic plant.
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“I related it to the gift or space that mother nature offers the act of multiplying, reproducing which may bear fruits or not from the fusing of pollens, but sets a stage of happiness and consent with respect,” Antao said.
Talking about the show, Maddox said that through the artworks the artists have examined the influence of spices upon various aspects of life.
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“We have encouraged our artists to explore in contemporary times. Our peppery soliloquies employing art references literature, ancient scripts, history and documents and of course contemporary times, where we examine the influence of spices upon the following various aspects of life, from the everyday to the historical, from its aroma and flavour in food to its Ayurvedic usage, from the aphrodisiacal to the mythological, from religious aspects, its medicinal usage,” Maddox said.
Khanjan Dalal’s sculpture of a purse made of stoneware clay aims to examine the culture of cumin cultivation and lives of farmers in the district of Banaskantha (Gujarat), while Kishore Chakraborty explores the flavour of spice through the colour red.
“A disillusioned Marxist and a typical Bengali I have enough masala (spice) in my life, where politics is an inhabitable legacy that we inherent by birth which ensnares our very existence and marks its presence through each quantum of thoughts,” Chakraborty said.
The mixed media show also exhibits works by Lavanya Mani, Chetan Mevada, Meghna Patpatia, Vasundhara Tewari Broota and Damini Choudhari.
“Art is always connected to life, what we see, observe and feel. Artists remain very connected to the earth, to feelings, thoughts, influences, life, situations, and society and their work reflects their sensitivity to these. This exhibition while incorporating diverse thoughts of the same concept also reflects how works can be more individualistic due to the pandemic,” said Monica Jain, curatorial director of Art Centrix Space.
The show will come to a close on March 12.