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Rekha@60: Putting women and the world on canvas

An exhibition of art by Rekha Rodwittiya places women at centrestage.

mumbai Updated: Oct 29, 2018 19:06 IST
Krutika Behrawala
Krutika Behrawala
Hindustan Times
Exhibition,Fish,Sakshi Gallery
The exhibition traces six decades of the artist’s spiritual and artistic journey. (N Divya / HT Photo)
Rekha@Sixty, an exhibition of works by Rekha Rodwittiya
  • WHERE: Sakshi Gallery, Colaba
  • WHEN: November 1 to 30, 11 am to 6 pm (Closed on Sundays)

Monkeys, sparrows, sewing machines, fish, fruit and other images of everyday life inhabit Rekha Rodwittiya’s paintings. Look closer and you’ll find the vibrant compositions replete with metaphors. The fish symbolises fertility, and when placed next to a female form, can be interpreted as a woman’s struggle to swim against the tide.

These motifs are part of a 60-piece series of paperworks on display at Rodwittiya’s latest solo show, Rekha@Sixty: Transient Worlds of Belonging that opens at the Sakshi gallery on Thursday.

The exhibition celebrates the artist’s 60th birthday through a body of work that looks back on her physical and spiritual journey across six decades. “I’ve walked across the many pages of my nation’s emerging history after its struggle for independence; sometimes in celebration and sometimes in anguish,” Rodwittiya says. “The images in this show are a culmination of these myriad experiences. My work is also influenced by the spirit of the stories that I hear on the television screen, where the courage of landmine survivors or a dying AIDS patient from a remote village in Africa comes into my life to remind me of what I need to be anchored by.”

s representing social themes. (N Divya / HT Photo)

The exhibition also features multimedia works that include photographs of vases and lattice staircases layered with imagery. “I did professional photography during my student years in Baroda, to be financially independent. I then put aside the camera for 20-odd years and only returned to it for my work recently,” says the Baroda-based artist.

Over the years, Rodwittiya has exhibited at galleries in New York, London and Venice. Most recently, she had a solo show titled Songs From The Blood Of The Weary in Mumbai. It featured a seminal work that she had created to commemorate 50 years of the United Nations, in 1995.

As in that show, and her oeuvre, women are a central focus in this exhibition too. Through them, she explores ideas of womanhood and questions patriarchal systems. She represents them as stark, arresting figures with an unrelenting gaze. “I iconise the female figure by ‘diagrammatising’ her body so that it does not become a commodity for lustful consumption. The unflinching gaze and the frontal posture of these female protagonists demand that the viewer participate and engage with its presence – yet the figure remains untouched by outward censure,” Rodwittiya says.

First Published: Oct 29, 2018 19:06 IST