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Colour Cohesive

Through the colour white, Lekha Washington explores different themes

art, art exhibition, The Collective Noun, or a Pound of Flesh and Suchlike,  Lekha Washington, Lekha Washington art exhibition, talkWashington’s work from the exhibition at Sakshi Gallery Washington’s work from the exhibition at Sakshi Gallery

Her debut solo, “The Collective Noun, or a Pound of Flesh and Suchlike” lacks cohesiveness but that is what Lekha Washington aimed for. “I don’t want to repeat one idea, which is what you see in most exhibitions,” she says. So the colour white is a common strand that ties together all her work on display at Mumbai’s Sakshi Gallery. The artist says, “Having one colour allows my work to be cohesive. At the same time, it gives me the freedom to play with different ideas.”

Each piece has clearly grown from a sense of beauty, strong ideas and a touch of whimsy. “Galleries are too serious,” she says, hefting the jumble of vertebrae that make up a twisted spine. “I want viewers to play with my work. I don’t want it to be decorative.

I want it to make you feel something,” adds Washington, who grew up in Chennai. An alumnus of National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, she obtained dual post-graduates in product design and filmmaking.

The work titled Dervish of Tornadoes, an installation of strips of white fabric attached to a spinning ceiling motor, requires viewers to stand inside the billowing, revolving fabric and look up at the single light in the middle. “I hope it will give the person a sense of rhythmic beauty and peace,” says Washington, “There are about eight gears in there”.

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Beauty contrasts with ugliness that she brings out in other works. A Pied Piper is a grotesque swarm of rat bodies with faces of pigs moving in the same direction but returning to where they start. “It’s the rat race that we can’t escape,” she says. Another interactive piece, A Stampede of Windows, is gigantic. Made entirely of hundreds of stamped windows that come together to form buildings in a cityscape, viewers can stamp a picture in any of the windows, selecting from the 20-odd stamps designed by Washington. “You realise that no matter how much you try and individualise each window, you can’t escape the sense of repetitiveness,” says the Mumbai-based artist who has also dealt with the body in works such as A Pound of Flesh.

While each work appears to talk to the viewer, the interface is more direct in a two-way interactive video, shot by Washington, which projects budding romance between a man and a woman. They face each other, in two projections aided by wi-fi and “talk to one another” in a perfectly synchronised fashion. So, when the woman throws something at the man, his reaction has completely natural timing. “These interactive videos are the seed of a much bigger project I have in mind,” says Washington.

The exhibition is on at Sakshi Gallery, Mumbai, till March 31

First published on: 12-03-2016 at 12:01:18 am
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