The Melting Pot, a travelling show that opened at Kashi Art Gallery, Fort Kochi, recently, brings together four women artists. Their expressions find common ground in negotiating their different worlds, in their cases either two or more. Barbara Ash from England who shuttles between India and her mother land explores colonial history, something novel to her as the period of the English in India is not taught in schools in England and hence unfamiliar. Her approach ergo is one of surprise and moves between the personal and the political. In her five acrylic-on-canvas works, she touches on themes of the Raj, her perception of India and the discourse on national identities. Her self portrait, inspired by Frida Kahlo’s works, is placed between her childhood memories and the current world. ‘Elephant in the Room’ is a snatch of the Raj where shikar was common and the hunted displayed with imperious pride on walls of colonial buildings. ‘Exotic Playground’ is inspired by the stereotype images that a foreigner on a visit to India is familiar with. The brown girl in a flower bazaar in Bangalore and the modern UB city is a contrast that breaks the established idea of India. A re-creation of her father, clicking a photograph, and of herself on a toy elephant are images harking back to the artist’s personal world.
Serbian artist Katarina Rasic considers her stay in Bangalore transitory but home nevertheless. Trained in visual arts, Katrina works in different mediums including performance. In ‘World Explorations’ she uses patterns and motifs she grew up with and imprints them as backdrop to a personal unfolding story. She delineates the narrative inside a personal silhouette, of her adjusting to changing cultural dynamics. Use of gold paint, crochet lace and the grasshopper and varied interpretations of the images enrich her storytelling. Uttarakhand artist Pritam Bhatty celebrates her mixed ancestry that draws strength from cultures as far and diverse as Dutch, Sinhalese and Indian. “We are all exploring childhood, womanhood, beginnings, belonging issues,” says Barbara on the theme of the show. Gayatri Gamuz has addressed this subject in most of her works and has expressed evocatively on her adjustment between her different worlds. Her Spanish origin and her life in Kerala and Tamil Nadu have thrown up interesting situations that she celebrates. Nostalgia is seen in sepia works—scenes at her brother’s wedding in Spain and family get-togethers therein. The past is done digitally in black and white while the present is celebrated in colours. Hence charming landscapes—the seaside, countryside—are recreated. Gayathri’s work stands out by the sheer drop in canvas size in comparison to others works in the show. Slightly bigger than post cards, their smallness imparts a fresh intensity to her narrative. A video show along with the works adds to the telling.
The Melting Pot is not a conceptually new story but each individual exploration is fresh and delightful, each story line different and every fusion creating new frontiers. The show is charming for these fresh new stories, new plots and new tellings.
The show concludes on April 18 and is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.