Unseen Art: Why the study of the Sunflower head never left Rohini Devasher’s studio

Indian artist Rohini Devasher reveals why she could never exhibit a study of the Sunflower head, made during her masters in the UK.

by Shailaja TripathiPublished on : Nov 23, 2020

At the intersection of science and art is poised Rohini Devasher’s art practice. Intrigued by nature, Devasher observes it keenly and interprets it subliminally through her videos, prints, drawings and sound. In fact, Devasher is also an amateur astronomer and a member of the Amateur Astronomers Association since long. The artist has often mentioned how she is interested in the ideas of iteration and complexity. It is within this framework that Devasher has an artistic dialogue with science and nature.

Drawing, glass marker on newsprint | Rohini Devasher | Unseen Art | STIRworld
Drawing, glass marker on newsprint Image: Rohini Devasher, Courtesy of Project 88

Devasher pursued BFA in painting from College of Art, New Delhi, and took up printmaking for her masters from the Winchester School of Art in the UK. Her work has been shown at The Spencer Museum of Art in the US, Museum of Art and Technology, Lisbon, Fukuoka Asian Art Triennial, Moscow Biennale, Kochi Muziris Biennale. In 2014, Devasher received the Forbes India Young Contemporary Artist of the Year award.

02 mins watch Studio and inspirations | Rohini Devasher | STIRworld
Studio and inspirations Video: Rohini Devasher

1. Please talk about your general practice.

My practice explores the natural world, combining the study of what we know, what we imagine, and what we hope for our future as part of it. Using scientific, artistic and speculative frames, the work tries to understand and articulate the constant transformation of our relationship to the planet. I work in a variety of media including video, printmaking, drawing and sound.

Drawing, glass marker on newsprint |Rohini Devasher| Unseen Art | STIRworld
Drawing, glass marker on newsprint Image: Rohini Devasher, Courtesy of Project 88

2. When and in what circumstances did you conceive this work?

I made this work in 2004 while I was doing my MA in Printmaking at the Winchester School of Art in the UK. The process of printmaking, with the iterative quality so central to the printing process, has been an important influence on the way I continue to make art, whether it is in the medium of sound, video or large site-specific drawings. 

Drawing, glass marker on newsprint |Rohini Devasher| Unseen Art | STIRworld
Drawing, glass marker on newsprint Image: Rohini Devasher, Courtesy of Project 88

3. What is the theme for the work?

The focus of the work produced through the MA was on patterns within organic form and an understanding of the underlying structure within nature's complexity. A lot of the work produced over the year was based on studies from life, seeds or plants, species of solitary coral etc, which are characterised by a very specific patterning. This piece was based on the study of a sunflower head.

Drawing, glass marker on newsprint |Rohini Devasher| STIRworld
Drawing, glass marker on newsprint Image: Rohini Devasher, Courtesy of Project 88

4. What process was used to make the work?

Glass marker on newsprint.

Drawing, glass marker on newsprint |Rohini Devasher| Unseen Art| STIRworld
Drawing, glass marker on newsprint Image: Rohini Devasher, Courtesy of Project 88

5. Why do you think it has not been shown yet?

It was one of several studies; a way of deepening the study of form and pattern. It didn’t fit into the conceptual frame of my MA final year show and after that the time wasn't right. A lot of other work was made and this one seemed further and further away in time and conceptual frameworks.

Drawing, glass marker on newsprint |Rohini Devasher| Unseen Art | STIRworld
Drawing, glass marker on newsprint Image: Rohini Devasher, Courtesy of Project 88

6. What would be the ideal (most desired) format to display the work if and when given a chance?

There is no such format. The work is too damaged now. It remains rolled up in the studio as a reminder and memento of that moment in time.

Unseen Art:
Curated by Rahul Kumar, STIR presents Unseen Art: an original series that features works that have never been shown publicly, created by a selection of multidisciplinary artists from across the globe.

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