To mark the 150th anniversary of Italy's Unification, the Italian Cultural Centre in New Delhi is hosting an exhibition featuring the works of Italian artist Tarshito (Nicola Strippoli) and his collaborations with Indian craftspersons at the Centre's Chanakyapuri premises.

Tarshito is an avid Indophile who has visited the country several times over the past three decades. He has also worked and lived with tribal communities in several States. The artist has worked tirelessly with Indian artisans and ‘The Circle of Making I', a retrospective of his works, illustrates just that.

“After I finished my course in architecture, my father instructed me to travel and discover the cultural heritage of different countries. When I came to India, I was bowled over by its natural beauty and the resilience of its people. As I was curious to learn how to meditate, I visited Dharamsala, Vrindavan and even stayed at Osho's Ashram in Pune for six months. It was Osho Rajneesh who gave me the name Tarshito,” he says.

In a rare gesture of magnanimity, he has acknowledged the contribution of the otherwise anonymous Indian artists by mentioning their names in the caption for each work.

It all began when Tarshito met Laila Tyabji of Dastkar and expressed his desire to work with Indian weavers and artisans. “I wanted to highlight the richness of Indian symbols, the way folks in rural areas live and how spiritual they are. In this exhibition, I have amalgamated geography with spirituality,” he says.

One of the exhibition's highlights is an Ambassador car in which the artist has designed a map of different countries. The idea behind it is to show that if the artificial demarcations are obliterated then there would be no conflict. “This would ensure that peace prevails, and that countries do not wage war with their neighbour or others,” Tarshito says.

According to Lalit Kala Akademi chairman Ashok Vajpeyi, India is home to the world's largest population of craftspersons. “It is difficult to find a person like Tarshito who can interact with hundreds of them. It is an extraordinary task,” says Mr. Vajpeyi.

“From carpet weaving to embroidery, from terracotta modelling to miniature painting, from the most remote tribal traditions to expressions of devotion, Tarshito's art defines itself in terms of shared inspiration and close, personal interaction, revealing throughout a commitment to discovery and research,” says an admirer of his works.

The exhibition assumes considerable significance as the 54th International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale has crossed the boundaries of Italy and is being celebrated at 89 Italian Cultural Centres in different countries.

The exhibition is on up to November 27.

Keywords: art exhibition

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