When Sakshi Gallery approached Rekha Rodwittiya with the invitation to curate a show to coincide with the presentation of Rekha@Sixty: Transient Worlds of Belonging, the artist was delighted to present some aspects of the art practice from The Collective Studio which she runs with her partner, artist Surendran Nair, in Baroda. The exhibition Four conversations in the Room features the works of Ankush Safaya, Kim Seola, N Divya and Sonatina Mendes, four contemporaries who have all been associated with The Collective Studio Baroda.
Ankush Safaya: An engineer by training, he gave up a lucrative corporate job to be a full-time artist in 2012. Baroda became his port of call since December 2014, through a residency that The Collective Studio Baroda and Site Art Space initiated as part of a larger collaborative programme. Safaya narrates that technology exposed him to engage with an abstract world in which circuit boards could translate into Mondrian’s paintings, and jumbled wires became the palimpsest of a Jackson Pollock painted surface. He believes that engineering brought the internal workings of machines into his world as an artist.


Kim Seola: Travelling from Korea to India, Kim Seola joined The Collective Studio Baroda in 2009. Her images, imprinted with her poetic consciousness, are emblematic of fragile survival and the tenacity to endure. She describes her recent works as a dialogue with the object that she wants to draw and the result, the action to record her experience and memory. Her process, to observe, touch and feel the objects, precedes the starting of her drawing. The process of creating, for Seola, is almost like a metaphor for confronting memories that she holds from her own personal past and private history.
N Divya: In The Collective Studio Baroda from 2009 to April 2018, she continues to remain a permanent member of the studio, engaged in the daily functionalities of the space and participating in all of the studio programmes. Her work is steeped in minute details that record her observations. The tactility of the material and the intricacy of each object fascinate her. This set of works stems from the ideas of how she re-looks at objects within her immediate world – that are often quite ordinary – and how they can come to accommodate many facets of an individual’s life, becoming markers of incidents and time. In the series of chairs that is presented in this exhibition, she talks of the imprint of histories, over a period of time, left almost embedded into these mundane everyday objects.


Sonatina Mendes: Coming from Goa as a student to join the MA programme at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Baroda in 2004, she began to engage with The Collective Studio Baroda in the same year, continued actively working at the Studio in Baroda till 2011, and remains an affiliate member till today. As an artist, her works are quiet enquiries of an existential nature, where she often poses questions such as: can the object become a landscape of memory or interpretation? Or how many memories can one weave into a given object? What kind of an object could lend itself as a visual manifestation of opposite polarities? The set of works presented in this show is that of a fan, and she states that this image of the fan stands as a metaphor for these questions. Mendes believes that there are various ways of dreaming a particular dream or thinking a particular thought, as there are various paths to a given destination. She suggests that the question lies in how we approach it each time.
By Maria Louis

Note: Four Conversations in the Room – Ankush Safaya + Kim Seola + N.Divya + Sonatina Mendes, was shown at Sakshi Gallery recently. For more details, visit www.sakshigallery.com

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