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Enter the dragonfly

A work by Dhara Mehrotra  

Dragonflies occur and recur in Dhara Mehrotra's installations and paintings. The creature's ability to break out of its limitations fascinated the artist so much that she has made it a part of her repertoire.

Now, the Bengaluru-based artist is planning to introduce her dragonflies to Mumbai through a 15-feet installation in public space. Tentaively titled "Hub", a spherical structure will be placed on a five-feet-high pedestal bearing her signature dragonflies.

The massive installation in a public space is bound to attract attention on two grounds - scale and dragonflies. “Also, when you take something out of context and put it in a place where it is least expected, it leaves people bewildered,” says Dhara.

Nature has been a major inspiration for Dhara right from her student days at College Of Art, Delhi.

And in her paintings and then installations, different elements of nature like petals, grass blades, and bougainvillea regularly found themselves expressed through artistic language.

For sometime now, she has been stuck on dragonflies. As she read about it and understood its cultural significance, Dhara felt compelled to make it a part of her repertoire.

“In our oriental culture, they are symbolic of joy, life and wisdom. How they are born in water, then they move to the land and finally they fly in the air — this natural phenomenon of life and growing past your created dimensions really impressed me,” expresses the artist who uses stainless steel and polymer to depict the fragile insect.

The tactility of the form also attracts the viewer. The young artist remembers how during Sarai Reader 09 exhibition in 2013 at Devi Art Foundation in Gurgaon, her work "Memory Wall" had people asking her if they could take a few dragonflies. “It was an interactive piece where viewers were encouraged to pick up the dragonflies and put them on the wall. It was inspired from a wish tree. Interestingly, they broke out of the wall to reach other areas of the gallery space as well. Also, a few asked me if they could take one with them.”

“Swarm” brought by Art Houz and exhibited at Le Meridien in Bengaluru, “was developed from “Memory Wall” and “Hub”, Dhara says. “The work is organic just like nature. I am not giving any message through my works. I am overwhelmed by the poetry of the fallen leaves and shed bougainvillea.

Their subtlety and fragility influence my work. Also, I believe that in a grain of sand you can see the world like William Blake said.” Now a citizen of the garden city, Dhara is absorbing its rich flora and fauna, which is slowly making way to her canvas.

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Printable version | Apr 10, 2021 11:11:28 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/Enter-the-dragonfly/article14486679.ece

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