Artist Rekha Rodwittiya’s artworks leaves clues for viewers. Look for alternative versions to traditional symbolism associated with feminity
Baroda-based artist Rekha Rodwittiya’s (58) artworks are like parables; they can be interpreted layer by layer, and hold different meanings for different people. What appears to be a woman holding a goat by its horns can be a manifesto for seizing the moment. A woman holding her hair with one hand and a pair of scissors in another is symbolic of the umbilical cord that she seeks to sever. A digital print of a five-handed woman can represent the way a woman juggles roles and negotiates the world.
Twenty three of such acrylic and oil on canvas images as well as digital prints feature in Rodwittiya’s latest solo – Love Done Right can Change the World. Made over the last two years, they reflect her thoughts on gender, empowerment, the female body, and identity. While the principal characters in the artworks are women, these also offer hope to marginalised people all over the world.
Rodwittiya, who describes herself as a “feminist and a painter”, says her concerns about women’s issues started in her formative years. Her father was a fighter pilot and the atmosphere at home was liberal. “I was a wanted girl child, growing up in a middle class environment. I did not want to squander the privilege,” she says, adding, “Feminism is in my DNA; it is the prism through which I view life. The works are autobiographical as they stem from the common ancestry of my womanhood.”
With the freedom to pursue the career of her choice, Rodwittiya studied at The Faculty of Fine Arts, MS University, Baroda, and later went to England on an Inlaks scholarship to do an MA in Painting from Royal College of Art, London.
Her art and her themes are often compared to that of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, but Rodwittiya doesn’t concur. “The reality that Kahlo was living within was different from mine. My narrative comes through the tradition of Indian miniature art and sculptures. Also, I am a colourist; I believe I was born with a colour tube,” she laughs.
Through the images, one can spot domestic objects or “small clues”, be it scissors or a kettle, and other recurring motifs, of roses and birds. While they are often synonymous with domesticity, Rodwittiya is redefining the context through her paintings. “Nothing is random in my images. The works are meant to evoke memories in people and lead them to use their personal lexicon to interpret the images,” she says.
Love Done Right can Change the World is ongoing till January 7
At Sakshi Gallery, 6/19, Grants Building, Arthur Bunder Road, Colaba