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An exhibition for contemporary Indian textiles

An interesting new show at the Devi Art Foundation features the first serious collection of Indian contemporary textiles in the country.

fashion and trends Updated: Feb 28, 2015 11:02 IST
Zofeen Maqsood
Zofeen Maqsood
Hindustan Times
Devi Art Foundation,Indian textiles,silk

If like me, you have been a regular attendee of Indian fashion weeks, you would have heard the phrase 'reviving ancient Indian textiles' about as often as you find cows on our roads. And while a Kimkhab sari dress or a Baluchari bustier being showcased on the runway might seem futuristic, you aren't as certain that ancient crafts can be incorporated in the 21st century through radically different ideas.

Fracture - Indian textiles, New conversations at Devi Art Foundation, Gurgaon, curated by Mayank Mansingh Kaul, Rahul Jain and Sanjay Garg that showcases a wide range of hand-made Indian textiles presented in a contemporary context, does just that.

Here's where you find - silk-and-gilded-thread cloth presented as a 3D sculpture, a traditional loom redesigned in a curved fashion to weave a spiralling durrie, and a series of Indian turban cloths presented as if to lament the loss of traditional markers of our society. All this is part of a project that brings together a plethora of hand made textiles from across the country.

Shernaz by Ashdeen Lilaowala is a statue made of Parsi Gara embroidery.

All the textiles were commissioned between 2000 and 2014. "Though, in India, textiles is such a visible concept, there are no museum quality masterpieces," says Mayank Kaul. "We wanted to discuss and deliberate what contemporary means in textiles today and what it means to break away from tradition," he adds. Well, the show certainly succeeds at that.

Saris in silicon

Fashion designer Rimzim Dadu chose a radically different material - white silicon rubber sheets shredded to thin yarn and given the length of a sari. When held against the light, the textile gives a glimpse of a beautiful pattern that is much like the Jamdani weave. The fabric is delicate and light as a feather like fine muslin, while the stretched yarn gives an undulating pattern.

Music of the spheres

Shaikh Mohammad Hussain used screen and block print on cotton to depict nine co-centric spheres, representing the planetary bodies. Resembling the beautiful night sky, this is an arresting work. From a distance, the design appears to be a repetition of a sphere nine times over but when viewed closely each sphere shows a different pattern - which calls to mind the diversity in Indian textiles and pattern making.

Playing with dimensions

Artist Astha Butail presents textile, a two-dimensional product, in a three-dimensional format created from the loom itself. The installation called Yokings of the Felicity uses handwoven gold Banarasi kimkhab textile in a contemporary design but draws inspiration from the Rigveda, where gold cloth is accorded great importance.

The flying rug

Textile designer Chandrashekar Bheda gives the cotton Panja dhurrie a new twist. Traditionally, dhurries are spread flat, but the artist defied norms and chose a curved loom. The black and white diamond pattern create the illusion of defying gravity. Bheda is now patenting the idea of the curved loom on which this 20 ft dhurrie was woven.


Indian Textiles, New Conversations is on till May 2015 at Devi Art Foundation, Sirpur House, Gurgaon.

Tue to Sun 11am-7pm

First Published: Feb 28, 2015 08:59 IST