Pranati Panda’s first textile experience was as a child learning to knit and sew from her mother. She has always had a need to do something with her hands, something tactile, and working with textile and stitching is a process of mark-making of the progression of time, she believes. “Hand-stitching is a time-based medium and each stitched line is deliberate and is a line of conversation between my hand and my brain,” she says. Gauri Gharpure explores her mixed media artworks that make intricate use of textile elements
Inspired by the realm of nature, Pranati Panda’s techniques include a combination of drawing, collage, and embroidery on paper and fabric. “My works make me think and allow me to meditate. Each dot and line is worked through my thoughts. I realized my hand stitching brings calmness to my life each time I stitch. It is all about fertility, growth, and the cycles of life,” she says. “Every work is somehow connected. Basically, my work is all about the invisible relation between humans and nature. It could be plants, it could be trees, insects, flowers… You just name it. But, in our daily lives, we do not see so many things but still, they exist. So I try to explore those things through my artworks,” Pranati shares.
Pranati says her work is raw and experimental and therein lies the beauty of it. “Everything I do is a completely new process and I do not know what will come next. I go like a river, slow and steady. I don’t think too much. That spontaneity is always there in my work and I enjoy that.” Her work portrays her existence. “Each dot or line I draw or I stitch are pieces of myself in various phases of my life,” shares Pranati Panda who makes intricate textile murals by incorporating myriad techniques. “It is about the deep connection between me and the passing time. How deeply I am witnessing each moment of my life, and the relation between the human and the nature. How powerful it is and how beautiful it is!” She plays with different materials, techniques, patterns, and textures. “I use rice paper, glue, ink, water colour, seeds, beads, a combination of hand-stitched and machine-stitched embroidery on rice paper, cotton fabric, dissolving fabric and mosquito net on embroidery hoops.” she shares.
The labor-intensive and meditative aspect of embroidery, she says, makes it possible for her to stay engrossed in her work and ensoul it more and more. “I believe threads are like human relations; they can be cut, intertwined and tangled.” Talking about her process, she elaborates: “I do not use the fabric as it is. I completely deconstruct it and reconstruct it and create many layers. You can never see the direct fabric, either I use hand stitch or machine embroidery and then transfer it to the paper,” Pranati shares. She collaborates with those who help her in the housework and has trained them because she believes that working with fabric or thread is a very feminine act. “Because if you go back to history and see in villages, women, after they finish their housework, they sit together and chat and do something – sewing, knitting… Something to do with thread. It is a way of socializing.”
For her last solo show, Speaking Threads, in 2019, she put on display 84 artworks and two large sculptures. She used an iron net to sew on for the sculptures Sunrise I and Sunrise II. Time Piece, a series of 35 works made for the solo show, depict time and what Pranati has gone through physically, mentally, and emotionally over the past 15 years. She takes a lot of references from neuroscientists and in particular, her inspiration comes from the works of Nobel-winning neuroscientist Santiago Ramón y Cajal whose arboreal representations of neurons appeal to her greatly. She has taken references from his work for the Brain series in which the plexus of nerves not only represents the brain but also looks similar to an upright banyan tree. Talking more about the Shades of Sunrise series, Pranati shares: “The moment you see the sunrise your energy goes up. Every morning is different, thoughts are different, you are different!,” The work is on the lines of transformative influences that nature brings upon us, simply by acknowledging and enjoying its presence.
“I feel good and very happy with the response I have been getting for the last couple of years. It is 15 years of work behind the scenes. I have been working for 15-20 years, nobody knew that but today if I gain something it is not today just about today, it is 20 years of hard work. The gallery that represents me, Vadehra Art Gallery, is very happy. I am also getting offers from outside India. I cannot say this is exclusively textile work, but yes, textile is a big part of my mixed media process,” she talks about the success of Speaking Threads. When asked about her advice to emerging artists, she simply says, “Work, work, and work!” She shares that it is important to stay connected because work has tremendous energy. “The moment we see or touch an artwork in progress, it tells you what exactly to do, how to proceed. For me, it is like an act of meditation. Sitting with your work is out of the world. Work will amaze you in your life, and will give you things that you never expect. That is a very precious thing that art gives to the artist. Artists never create artwork, I believe artworks create artists,” she signs off.