13 years after its inception, India Art Fair is showcasing an important Indian artist – Abir First Take eminent jury member Madhvi Parekh. An overview by the Pothi Team
It was 13 years ago this very month that the India Art Fair, one of the leading platforms that curates South Asian modern and contemporary art, was founded. This year as well, one of the most interesting exhibits being hosted at this iconic event in the national capital is ‘Ways of Seeing’, which focuses on what it describes as “one of the most contested spaces in Indian art — the gaze”. It will feature over 150 works by female and male artists from the Indian modern art movement. And, amongst these names is Madhvi Parekh.
Her expansive body of work is peppered with colours, motifs and emotion. Community art, legends, figures, nature and imaginary characters come alive as abstracted orientations in her paintings, lending a dream-like quality to her depictions, which are not drawn from any one specific tradition. Childhood memories, folklore, myth, rural chronicles and household rituals like rangoli inspire her.
Born in 1942 in Gujarat’s Sanjaya village, Madhvi married well-known artist Manu Parekh in 1958, and began painting alongside her husband in 1964. She had no formal education in art, but she worked instinctually. Parekh is appreciated for having found her own vocabulary early on in her career, and she stayed consistent to it.
Between 1970 and 1972, she studied fine arts in Paris on a scholarship from the French government. Over the years, her works continued tobe inspired by celebrated international artists like Paul Klee, Joan Miró, Georges Rouault and Francesco Clemente, all the while consolidating her own distinct and fascinating language. Themes of emancipation were woven into her fantastical landscapes, and her oeuvre is loaded with commentary on gender issues and the urban-rural divide.
Parekh works in varied mediums, such as oil and acrylic on canvas, watercolour on paper, reverse painting, serigraph, glitter pen, etching to ink and more. Every element of her work is well defined — prominent lines, rhythmic dots, geometric shapes, whorls, waves, panels, vivid colours and brushstrokes. According to Parekh, her paintings are unplanned, and they unfold as she creates them. Her work is often reminiscent of Rajasthani Pichhwai and Andhra Pradesh’s Kalamkari art. Bengal’s Kantha and Bihar’s Sujani art forms also find parallels in facets of her work.
In the last half-century, Parekh’s work has found resonance in locations across the world, with solo and group exhibitions held across the world. She has also been recognized by the government.
Both Madhvi and Manu Parekh have been associated with Abir as eminent jury members of our First Take 2017, an annual event where we celebrate the works of young artists from across India and showcase their creations to a broader audience. See her video on the expo here.