The raw, the cooked and the savoured

Bharathi Raviprakash  

In The Raw and the Cooked, 1964, Claude Levi-Strauss explored myths collectively, examining structure and sensory qualities, uncovering a new way of deciphering mythology. The comparison is surely appropriate for a show at Apparao Galleries, where clothing by Abraham and Thakore shares the same platform with jewellery by Bharathi Raviprakash of Studio Tara titled ‘Raw Elegance’, and art by five artists titled ‘Monochromes:Lustres:

Metals’. The show has travelled to Delhi and Bangalore. Rakesh Thakore, who curated the clothing and jewellery, remembers the inception, “How do we put them all together — this melange?” The whole idea for Thakore was about taking this language across, other than seeing them individually as different products.

A beautiful pinkish Burmese ruby is not faceted or polished, just buffed.  A slight natural crack on a gem has been left alone, deliberately. “I see them as characteristics of the gems,” elucidates Bharathi, a GIA-accredited jewellery professional. “This collection is about character, age and wisdom.” While many designers use radiation to enhance stone colour, Bharathi uses stones that are not treated. The gems come from mines in Africa, Burma and Sri Lanka. “I usually buy the stone in the form I want it.” There is passion for every work she creates. “With every single piece, I feel a pang when I have to part with it.”

Pricing is from Rs. 50,000 upwards for the ‘Raw Elegance’ collection . Sapphires and emeralds in necklaces and earrings are bound delicately by gold wire. Tourmalines in their natural states, like a section of kiwi fruit, are fashioned into cuff links. A double-finger ring resembles a large egg in a mosaic of silver. “It is modelled after a cobbled stone pathway. I get most of my inspiration from nature and from my holidays,” says Bharathi. On a recent trip to New Zealand, they kept passing streams as they drove. “It was a beautiful day but it was freezing.” Tempted, she stopped at a stream, went across and put her foot in the cold water. Through the sparkles, she noticed the pebbles at the bottom, almost like gems. Bharathi decided to make her next collection raw and minimal. Her forays into the countryside have yielded a cornucopia of forms: a copper necklace is like a bunch of twigs twisted into a curve with gems tied in. Linking needle-like pieces into a warrior-style bracelet is Bharathi’s ode to a picket fence. Her greatest challenge to the wearer is a 1800-carat necklace with emeralds from the Ural Mountains; it's meant for a strong neck!

Rakesh Thakore’s fastidious attention to every arrangement at the show gives away the secret behind this internationally renowned designer’s success. The main feature of this spring-summer collection is Abraham and Thakore’s quiet revolution of the dhoti into a series of elegant tunics for women. The subtle couture in natural fibres and fabrics has an effervescent presence. “It’s about the purity of form without ornamentation — simple and sophisticated, ” says Thakore. As always, Abraham and Thakore’s brevity makes material immaterial. Every dot and pleat is only there if it is meant to be. Trapunto , the Italian technique of layered quilting, gives substance to the fine garments. This collection has echoes of the designers’ favourite black-and-white palette as well as indigo, khaki, flame orange and sulphur yellow.

But, they are not alone. Yogesh Kasera’s canvases with textured impressions of gold and silver leaf, crinkled like cloth, remind us that creases too define a garment. N. Ramachandran’s collages are ordered into spaces to examine colour, type and texture. In another room, where tunics in browns and tans dominate, artist Benitha Perciyal’s framed paper art is like an ivory fowl spreading her feathered layers, capturing the soft touch of plumage. Artist Yusuf has sandwiched a piece of fabric behind a glass frame and scored across parallel silver lines – the effect, like threads on a loom, an unfinished symphony. For the disappearing ecology of handloom weavers of the dhoti, investigations like Thakore’s into other forms could mean a welcome revival.

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Printable version | Jul 31, 2021 7:06:20 AM |

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