Traversing through metaphor of time via revisited art
Perturbed by the pandemic, Gurugram-based artist Shelly Jyoti allowed Covid-19 to play a new character in her previously created canvasses and concepts. Revisiting this in the light of her work on Gandhi, the artist exhibits her new series.
Covid-19 acquired several meanings when it encountered artistic minds, who endeavoured to interpret it creatively. And the same was the case with visual and textile artist Shelly Jyoti, for whom the pandemic took up the role of a new actor on her canvas, making her revisit the past concepts of swadharma, sarvoday, and swaraj — relating to Gandhian philosophy — which she had explored in her past exhibitions. “By the time the second wave of Covid came, as an artist, I felt it’s a collapse of human values and time,” says Jyoti, whose experiments with khadi have been received well in the pre-pandemic times. And now, she feels, “Covid became the new actor in the historical moment that we are in. It became the protagonist for my own artwork.”
Recalling the dismal times, Jyoti shares how she selected about 30 artworks, for the ongoing show titled Epoch 2020: Relevance of Gandhi in the Present Tense – Time, Rebirth, and Iconology (2021). She explains, “Covid taught us about building the community, caring for local crafts and small businesses, and a collective rise of everyone in the society. These concepts I had already touched upon in my previous artworks. So this became my rebirth series, as I overlayered old artworks with new motifs.”
The exhibition, ongoing at her studio, features about 30 small diptychs on paper, 20 short poems from her series named Passage of time, and a few site-specific installations of her collection of textile kites called Unsettled winds. In these works, Jyoti explores motifs such as those of linear iconology of time, which symbolise the passing of time and timelessness of Gandhian thought and collective consciousness. There’s also the koi-fish, which “shrinks and expands according to the environment it is in”, the yogic posture that’s an important aspect of self-care and self-discipline in the lives we live, and kintsugi that’s the Japanese way of healing broken objects by repairing them with gold.
The artist, who is a Gandhian scholar, feels that the pandemic might initiate another renaissance for 21st century, which would require time to pause, self-reflect, reconstruct and overcome the tide. Having experienced spiritual and existential questions herself, during the pandemic, Jyoti rues that she couldn’t visit Bhuj where she used to work with Ajrakh — a 4,500-year-old indigenous textile tradition involving reverse block printing with natural dyes. “I, therefore, decided to work with acid-free paper layered with mixed media while revisiting my own collection of decades of work.”
Catch It Live
What: Epoch 2020
Where: https://youtu.be/nWaq6HNWjMA and
Golf Course Road, Gurugram (For appointment, call: 0124 4000154)
On till: December 31
Timing: Noon to 7pm
Nearest Metro Station: Huda City Centre on the Yellow Line
Author tweets @siddhijainn