Rethinking Literature through Art – The New Indian Express

Express press service

Chapter XXIV of La Vita Nuova by Italian poet and philosopher Dante Alighieri (translates as A New Life in English) opens with the following lines: “I felt myself waking up inside my heart; A sleeping loving spirit; And then I saw the Love coming from afar; Gay yes, as soon as he knows it…” This work by the 19th century artist, composed in honor of his muse Béatrice Portinari, is the literature that has shaped the history of poetry in Italy.

Ideas expressed in Dante’s works have been revisited in an exhibition produced by the Italian Embassy’s Cultural Center, curated and curated by Myna Mukherjee, Founder and Director of Engineered India, and China-based curator Davide Quadrio . Talking about what inspired her to organize Vita Nova, Mukherjee shared, “The idea behind the show is to look at those traditions, in India and Italy, the lineage of arts and crafts, and look at the contemporary to see if there are any new inspirations.”

Covering various topics
This exhibition explores the transformations of contemporary crafts and art between Italy and India through the works of six Indian and Italian artists – Andrea Anastasio, Francesco Simeti, Marta Roberti, Puneet Kaushik, Raghava KK and Shilo Shiv Suleman. Through their works, the artists delve into the dichotomies of “nature and humanity, mythology and memory, transformation and preservation, and the manifestation of something new”.

Inspired by Dante’s themes, the artists experiment with their respective mediums. Artist-anthropologist Puneet Kaushik has experimented with the traditional blue pottery craftsmanship of Jaipur, to create 12 works, each exploring the concept of hybridity.

Similarly, Kaushik revisits the concept with Bidri, an export craft from Karnataka in which a blackened alloy of zinc and copper is encrusted with fine sheets of pure silver. Andrea Anastasio, meanwhile, explores the key issues of capitalism, labor and industrialization, through his work “Moth”.

Revisiting traditional trades
Most of the artists worked with local artisans and explored traditional craftsmanship. While an attempt has been made to focus on artisans, artists are also trying to push the boundaries of conventional techniques. For example, Marta Roberti from Rome worked with Kashmiri artists to create a series of works using Aari embroidery that explore abstract ideas. “There were considerations of material and ideas. Many Muslim karigars do not want to make body images; they would do flora and fauna. It was a lot of persuasion.

Experimentation producing incremental results is common in such works. This can be seen in the works of Francesco Simeti made using woodcuts as well as in Kaushik’s Hybrid series which combines various techniques such as line drawing, ajrakh, indigo dyeing, tufting carpets, Tibetan beadwork, etc., which Kaushik created with the help of local artisans.

CHECK IT OUT
WHAT: Vita Nova
WHEN: Until May 31
WHERE: Cultural Center of the Italian Embassy

About Edward Weddle

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