Khoj came up with socially relevant paintings to evoke, to arouse. There was Gujarat anguish, the Irish angst on the canvas.
Delhiites got a chance to empathise with Gujarat the other day. Thanks to some paintings brought to the city by Khoj, an autonomous international artists association, which is known for bridging ethno-religious and socio-political divide through the medium of art. It recently organised an exhibition at its studio, located in Khirkee Extension. This time Khoj invited two artists, Brendan Jamison, an Irish artist and Vasudha Thozhur, an Indian painter. Vasudha displayed a series of paintings made by six adolescents girls (Shahjahan Sheikh, Tahira Pathan, Tasleem Kureishi, Rabiya Shiekh, Rehaana Sheikh and Farzana Sheikh) who lost several members of their families in the carnage at Naroda Patiya, Ahmedabad, on February 28, 2002. She met them as a part of a project she took up in collaboration with `Himmat' which is a self-sustaining women's collective initiated by those affected in the 2002 Gujarat violence. Her project examined the role that art practices can play in a collective trauma such as the one that which gripped Gujarat and addresses a range of issues from personal loss to displacement, and the possibility of mobilisation and economic revival through the use of the visual language. Vasudha says, "The focus is on process rather than a pre-determined outcome, and further the recording of the process through painting, writing, and the digital media, as an archive against forgetting." The six girls also made their presence felt at the exhibition. They enjoyed talking about their works. Two of them mentioned, "Vasudha didi taught us all this, how to draw, paint, colour and different styles of painting. We earlier knew nothing. It took us about one-and-half-year to complete all these works. She told us how to manage time, so that we could study as well as paint. . We enjoyed painting and drawing. We will continue to paint in future too".
Brendan displayed his series of outdoor site-specific wool work, which was created in direct response to the architectural features of the Khoj complex. He mainly used primary colour wools as the medium. He describes his work, "There is violence going on in my country so I have used wool, as a new media to indicate warmth, affection and gentle feeling. I also wanted to give a more feminine look because warmth is usually associated with feminine. That's why I used all primary colours". Interesting!