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Here be dragons; a map without a city: See how artists interpret geography

An exhibition at Mumbai’s Sakshi gallery takes cartography and map-making to personal, political and artistic places.

art and culture Updated: Apr 07, 2017 18:27 IST
Riddhi Doshi
Riddhi Doshi
Hindustan Times
Sakshi gallery,Art,Paintings
Raj Jariwala’s works weave in satellite maps alongside cartographic ones. The two highlight the how countries define their territories.(Sakshi Gallery)

WHAT: Here be Dragons, a group show

WHERE: Sakshi Gallery, 6/19, Grants Building, 2nd Floor, Arthur Bunder Road, Colaba

WHEN: April 13 to May 31, 10.30 am to 7 pm. Closed on Sunday

Call: 22 6610-3424


Here Be Dragons sounds like it could be a line from Game Of Thrones. But it actually harks back to Medieval times, when the world wasn’t fully explored, leaving cartographers in a fix. “It was purportedly inscribed on maps to denote unchartered or potentially dangerous territories,” says curator Meera Menezes.

While we now know that there are no dragons lurking in dark corners of the world, Menezes’s exhibition at the Sakshi Gallery focuses on the fascinating subject of maps and map making.

She invites close to a dozen artists to create maps on subjects that capture their imagination and are interpreted in their own artistic language. “The show offers them the chance to code the world and play cartographer by mapping times, spaces, constellations, human bodies, histories or even memories. In doing so, they make unexpected linkages and re-imagine the world as we know it,” says Menezes.

So artist Varunika Saraf’s work, Map of Pain, shows tiny human figures with guns, troubled with water woes, shrunk in size for lack food, and floating heads. It’s based on poet Dante Alighieri’s vision of hell as illustrated by Sandro Botticelli. Saraf says it reflects the systemic repression of the marginalised in modern India.“It maps time, history, memory, through figures borrowed from different periods,” she says. “It is not clear whether Swiss-German artist’s Paul Klee’s famous New Angel, also illustrated in my painting, is falling into a bottomless pit or rising above the destruction of the past. The painting was created in the hope that we learn from the past and reshape the future before it is too late.”

Raj Jariwala’s drawings weave in satellite maps alongside cartographic ones. The two highlight the how countries define their territories. Gulammohammed Sheikh’s works employ the format of a mappa mundi, a medieval European map of the world, which served as an encyclopaedia of knowledge. It intertwined biblical tales, flora and fauna with history and mythology. Sheikh uses the format to highlight more contemporary concerns.

Other artists in the show include Anju Dodiya, Arpita Singh, Madhvi Subrahmanian, Marie Velardi, Mithu Sen, Nilima Sheikh, Shilpa Gupta and Zarina Hashmi.

Read: Gieve Patel on juggling disciplines, railway stations, and his memories of Bombay in the ’60s

First Published: Apr 07, 2017 18:27 IST