Exhibition: Art transcends barriers and divisions of form, function and practise in Deepika Dorai’s works

The changing room first came into view, largely because it had a thatched roof and inviting, bright yellow curtains separating it from the rest of the room. Walk in and you encounter another pair of blue curtains beyond which is a cosy space complete with lights and a fan and a stained glass panelled window.

The room is part of a century-old house that was restored by Deepika Dorai of the Bimba Art Ashram and a section of the house has been allocated to sharing (as opposed to showcasing) the fruits of her artistic practise, which is an intuitive part of her lifestyle.

The space is designed and filled with handmade works including fabrics, furniture, paintings, accessories, footwear, and artefacts all made by Deepika and collectively titled “Earth sensitive art”. “What we are sharing here is earth sensitivity as a way of life, how art plays an important role in that and how to look at beauty with earth sensitivity at the centre,” says Deepika. “Each of these pieces and forms is a celebration. Art is all that in which I’m celebrating Mother Earth and her generous offering, whether it’s wood, metal or yarn and to be able to create with whatever she offers us.”

Deepika’s hand had shaped nearly everything in the space, including the walls, the lights, even the display cabinets of all the works. Deepika uses available resources like discarded or unused tiles, wood and even metal, to create ethnic products which are quite contemporary.

Tables with simple round glass panels resting on part of a coconut trunk, two-seater sofas made of the discarded, rich wood from a crib or low tables that display individual, colourful tiles arranged to fit into a square glass top, all share space alongside old printed or painted pictures of Indian deities depicting popular scenes from Indian mythology, some of which Deepika has painted.

Then there are the fabrics, which she crafts into kurtas, saris, salwars or skirts, that are displayed in ingeniously built cabinets, made out of rice sifters suspended using coir ropes or open cupboards supported by coconut trunks on either side with grooves for rectangular glass panels.

There is no concept of waste in Deepika’s art. Almost every part of the fabric is used, to make strings of buttons, cushion covers, bags or even colourful thoranams or door hangings. There is also a whole range of artefacts, dolls, bells, statues of Indian deities, pen holders and lamps.

Each piece in the exhibition is unique and handcrafted by the artist and becomes effortlessly green, because of the space from which it is crafted.

“The artist is stretching the barriers of art and the language of art into function. If you see, in nature there is no division between form and function. But there’s a huge debate going on whether art is in form, function or process. These are all divisions,” says Deepak Doraiswamy, co-founder, Bimba. “The artist is spontaneous as art is being alive to the moment. You are alive to learning at that moment and then you are alive to saying that art will not remain merely an object or display. Art will be a celebration of life and its occasion, life and its space.”

The exhibition which features works that are priced between Rs 5 and Rs. 40,000, will be on until April10 at Bimba, The Art Ashram, 42 Ratna Vilasa Road, Basavanagudi. For details, contact 9886635069 or 26622639.