Celebrating the dichotomy

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The exhibition of the couple’s art deliberately explores the male/female dichotomy as complementarity rather than opposition. Madhvi Parekh’s work combines modernism with traditional Indian craft motifs…reports Asian Lite News

The exhibition of the couple’s art deliberately explores the male/female dichotomy as complementarity rather than opposition…reports Asian Lite News

At the Dior haute couture presentation in Paris in spring-summer 2022, Maria Grazia Chiuri, Creative Director of Dior women’s collections, and Karishma Swali, Mumbai-based Chanakya ateliers and Chanakya School of Craft collaborated to showcase an art installation featuring award-winning contemporary Indian Artists Madhvi and Manu Parekh.

A selection of original Parekh’s artworks spanning several decades have been translated into large scale hand-embroidered textile panels, which were installed throughout the Muse Rodin’s exhibition space and will be on view until January 30. The series of monumental textile artworks feature traditional Indian motifs and spiritual abstractions, which celebrate the dichotomy between male and female, real and surreal, action and stillness.

This new dialogue is the result of a years-long collaboration between Chiuri and Swali. Chiuri collaborated on this installation with art historians and curators Maria Alicata and Paola Ugolini. Chiuri has sought to collaborate with a diverse range of female artists from around the world, including dancers, choreographers, musicians, poets, photographers, filmmakers, and visual artists. This latest immersive experience, which interprets the artists’ paintings and renders them in exquisite embroidery and textile techniques, pays homage to Dior’s couture lineage as well as Indian craftsmanship’s rich heritage.

This extraordinary installation was created by 320 master artisans who worked for more than three months, hand-embroidering 340 square metres (3,600 square feet) of work. This dynamic commissioned presentation reinvents the roles of the atelier, the artist, and the couturier through the convergence of contemporary artistry, couture techniques, and textile excellence.

“I am honoured to bring to life our collective vision with Maria Grazia Chiuri, Madhvi Parekh, and Manu Parekh for this immersive experience that frames the Dior haute couture presentation,” Karishma Swali said. Adding, “Maria Grazia has always been a true champion for craft excellence, nurturing and preserving indigenous master techniques from all over the world, and we are grateful for her collaboration and mentorship.”

Underscoring her creative dialogue with India and paying homage to the blurred lines between fine art and craft, Maria Grazia Chiuri, brought together these two widely celebrated Indian artists using the language of embroidery, interpreted through meticulous artistry and textile techniques by Swali, at the Chanakya ateliers.

“I began collecting the Parekhs’ works many years ago and discovered an incredible synergy between modernism and traditional Indian motifs, with a deep reverence for exceptional craftsmanship as a unifying thread, exemplifying my mission for Chanakya and our School of Craft,” Karishma Swali said. “The challenge of interpreting their work was thrilling, and we approached the fabrication in a very spontaneous manner allowing the artists’ vivid lines and forms to lead the way.”

The exhibition of the couple’s art deliberately explores the male/female dichotomy as complementarity rather than opposition. Madhvi Parekh’s work combines modernism with traditional Indian craft motifs. Madhvi Parekh’s art is a confluence of modernism and traditional Indian craft patterns, and is steeped in folk traditions, her life growing up in her village in Gujarat’s abundance of nature, and Indian customs as diverse as the rangoli, embroidery, and the Bhavai travelling theatre. Chanakya and KarishmaSwali cultivated a folk vernacular to interpret her artwork through embroidery by using dimensional techniques in repetition to form background textures that evoke a magical world of folktales and the pastoral idyll, populated by village deities, forests, animals, and children.

Manu Parekh’s art constantly invites the viewer to travel through mental landscapes and spiritual abstractions, with a tenacity that distinguishes him as one of the most distinctive voices in contemporary Indian art. Parekh, a laureate of the Indian Government’s prestigious Padma Shri (1992), is one of India’s best-known modern artists and one of the country’s most inventive painters.

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