Human vocabulary incorporates multiple images from Nature. We speak of blossoming and withering, of germinating ideas and kernels of wisdom, of seeds and growth, of concrete jungles and fruitful plans… countless words and phrases have come to us from the life of plants. It is this “Secret Life of Plants” that this show explores. Through a dialogue between a diverse body of works that span the disciplines of painting, photography, performance art, sculpture, video installation and mixed media approaches, ‘The Secret life of Plants’, presented by Exhibit 320, explores the way in which the natural world comes to be invested with profound personal, social and cultural significance.
The show draws inspiration from a verse by Pablo Neruda (Sonnet XVII), in which plants are taken as metaphorical messengers carrying the “hidden flowers” of profound human emotions — intimate associations that “live darkly” in our bodies — and ways in which we make sense of our world and our lives. Curator Maya Kovskaya has brought together a show with 13 artists from India, China, and Iran, including Ravi Agarwal, Sonia Mehra Chawla, Neha Choksi, Anita Dube, Han Bing, G.R. Iranna, Sathyanand Mohan, Muktinath Mondal, Parvathi Nayar, Neda Razavipour, Shine Shivan, Sumakshi Singh, and Hema Upadhyay. While G.P. Iranna’s work is about how nature is obstructed and hampered to make way for human development, Sonia Mehra Chawla’s work symbolises the female body through the growth process of a plant, portraying the life cycle of a human being.
The collection examines the secret, hidden life of plants from several perspectives. They are objects of labour and cultivation, of desire and lust; they are the source of sustenance and nurture, symbols of good and evil. The works — sometimes anthropomorphic, sometimes fantastical — create new ways of seeing, allowing us to examine a very human world by reflecting on images of and from a very non-human form of life. There are hints of utopian yearnings, of dystopian nightmares; of science fiction and allegorical tales. The artists, each completely different from the other stylistically, come together to create a world of plants that opens a window into our own world.
Bottomline: A world of plants opens a window into our own world.
The Secret Life of Plants
Where:Exhibit 320, F- 320, Lado Sarai, New Delhi.
When:Until September 30