by Shraddha NairJul 07, 2020
For her second solo exhibition at TARQ, Boshudhara Mukherjee returns with a body of work called The Familiars. The showcase reveals a series which has come from a process of transformation and rebirth. Mukherjee talks to STIR about her methods and muses.
The Familiars leans on Wiccan legends to elucidate artist’s ideas that are knitted into her art. She says, “I don’t follow Wicca, but I do have friends who do, so can’t really give you the history behind the legend nor any technical depth into the topic. But the very basic meaning of familiars as per my understanding is that familiar spirits are supernatural entities that assist the Wicca in their practice of magic and manifest in numerous forms, usually as an animal, but sometimes as a human. So much of me and mine get woven into my works that the idea, whatever little I understand of it, was something I could relate to, especially in this series. More than before, I have channeled those close to me, animal and human, as inspiration for this collection of works. I often referred to my works as my alter ego / subconscious. Though the work is created by me, I don’t work towards a pre-planned form, it flows very organically and almost always finds a way to surprise me. Thus, being a part of me but still having an identity of its own. Creating is a collaborative process between me and my work. The work in many ways guides me and my hands to create the final work”. The artist finds her practice guided by her close, loved ones - even her cats!
Some of the works from this series are rebuilt from her previous artworks, bringing new life and meaning to them. Mukherjee says, “The way the audience reads a work is always intriguing and gives me, the artist, a new perspective to my own work. I don’t really think of my works as birth, death and rebirth but simply as a change in function, and love for material. I hate wasting/throwing things away, especially fabric, ending up with cupboards full of old material, anything I believe I can reuse or fix, usually belonging to my family and friends. Everything to me is recyclable and this idea very naturally extends into my art work. My old artwork to me is eventually just material to reuse, no different from converting a once loved piece of clothing into a patchwork blanket. The decision is thus a purely aesthetic and practical one”.
She continues, “The series of works being shown as part of this solo show, The Familiars, at TARQ is a selection of pieces created over the last five years. During this period, I have found new muses, looking at those close to me, family and pets, for inspiration. The work is still mainly woven, like in the past, but has evolved in terms of materiality and merges skills, mastered over the year, like stitching, patchwork, crochet adding texture and depth. Each work that is part of this show, has been an experiment, something new making me push boundaries both technically and ideologically. I have learnt a lot.
It is hard to pick one work. I hate and love each work for different reasons. I learnt something new in each adding to my repertoire, opening up doors for future work. Ubu is the first work where I looked outside myself for visual inspiration. Bibi, the black circles are crocheted, introducing a new technical aspect to the work. Adi was new in its use of material with a lot more fabric. Denim, trousers and jeans belonging to the men in my family, are patch-worked, cut and woven. The Pentagram works were created combining smaller works to create the larger pieces”.
Mukherjee’s practice stems from an organic journey, a path which unfolded naturally before her as a consequence of her life experiences. “I come from a family with a lot of art, crafts, poetry and music. So very naturally I ended up studying painting from MS University, Baroda. I had always been interested in crafts and I learnt a lot of techniques at home. Through my work I looked to find a way to merge my love of craft with my understanding of art. I found encouragement and support from various artist grants such as the Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant, the Inlaks Shivdasani Foundation Fine Arts Award and the Nasreen Mohammadi Foundation Scholarship grant and galleries who were willing to exhibit my work; before TARQ I had two solo shows in Mumbai at the Volte gallery and one the Gallery Sarah in Muscat, Oman. I had my first solo with TARQ, Canticle, in 2016. These opportunities gave me the confidence and conviction to continue to experiment, explore and grow as an artist”.
The Familiars will continue to be on display at TARQ in Mumbai until April 24, 2021.