One of Dhvani Behl’s most cherished possessions is an intricate Benarasi Chanderi sari made using pure gold zari, which once belonged to her great-grandmother. And while the textiles she makes are not as ornate as the heirloom sari, her attempt is to make limited-edition textiles that can be treasured as a work of art. “We weave in memories through textiles; they encompass a lot of history. I try to offer art that can be worn and will be keepsakes,” says Behl.
The 26-year-old Delhi resident studied printmaking at the Rhode Island School of Design and runs a design studio Flora for Fauna (FFF). She is now exhibiting her latest collection of textiles at Artisans’. The exhibition features wall hangings, paper prints, saris, kimonos, jackets, dresses, kurtas and a skirt, with vibrant geometric motifs including Japanese wave patterns (overlapped half circles used repetitively) and minimal floral designs. The garments are made using natural fibres like silk and cotton linen.
The limited edition works were hand-drawn and created a piece at a time over a span of five months. Behl’s quest, she says, was to “see where a drawing can take you”. She follows a process where she starts drawing on a plain sheet of paper and then continues with no pre-planned design till the very end. “It is about noting the energy that passes from the brain to the hand without any interruption,” she says.
The drawings in question were made at her mother’s house in Palolem beach, Goa — a place she retreats to for a month or more to get inspired. With the drawings in place, Behl then used a variety of printing techniques, ranging from modern digital printing to traditional woodcut printing and screen printing as well as hand embroidery.
While Behl has never been to Japan, the country and its aesthetics (which she studied in the design school) inspire her. The title — Enso — is also a reference to the Zen Buddhist concept where a circle is hand-drawn in one or two brushstrokes; the aim being to notice the perfection that lies amidst the circle’s imperfect contours. The works, an interplay of colourful kitschy designs interspersed with minimal ones, highlight the chaos and the calm that each day offers.
Behl admits that it is tough to make garments for Indian women, considering their diverse body shapes. “But I try to offer something that comfortably fits a person and looks great on them,” she says, citing an example of Indian drapes which lend themselves to be worn by women of all body shapes and sizes.
What: Enso will be on display from January 21 to 24, 11am to 7pm
Where: At Artisans’, 52-56 Dr VB Gandhi Marg, Kala Ghoda
Call: 2267 3040