> Folly Measures

Vishwa Shroff

09 January - 28 February, 2020

The team at TARQ is delighted to present Folly Measures by Vishwa Shroff. In this exhibition, Shroff continues to journey through the everyday, focusing on the idea of transience and impermanence.  The catalogue is accompanied by an essay penned by Mumbai based independent curator, writer and researcher, Veeranganakumari Solanki. The show is both meditative and thought-provoking in the manner in which Vishwa’s drawings of architectural form uncovers man’s relationship with space over a period of time. What most would overlook or consider mundane, Shroff is able to weave together highlighting engagement and exclusion through her medium of drawing. The audience is immediately placed into a curious yet contemplative mood by the detailed window panes, finely structured partisan walls (playfully named, Partywall) and speckled cracked floors. Shroff’s precision and use of earthly tones is not merely a reflection of fashion trends, or time periods but access, encroachment and restrictions. Her work reaffirms that time does not stand still for architecture and the changes within these architectural structures become indicators of the lives lived within these spaces. Solanki points out in her essay, “at a moment when history’s future is increasingly uncertain, visual colonial comforts and follies are pulled out in the perception and adaptation of architecture. Residues and ruins legitimise our current situation of being, both in the physical and mental state, thereby making us collective by-products of the past. The patterns and forms seen in the drawings are from inhabited spaces. We have all perhaps chanced upon spaces such as these in the city that is dominated by a British architectural identity. The familiarity of these foreign elements conflictingly embeds itself in a feeling of normalcy and home. The shared feeling of sentimental colonial amnesia is acknowledged through habitual mundane elements that visually play out in the spaces we occupy.”

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Vishwa Shroff

Vishwa Shroff’s artistic practise is firmly rooted in drawing, with a proclivity towards architectural forms that serve as compelling take-off points for a deeper contemplation on memory and our relationship with the material world. Her works seek to explore the narratives of lived experiences that lay embedded within surfaces. Mundane accidents and absent-minded aberrations – a missing tile in a floor for example – simultaneously become signifiers of the presence of absence and the potential of a future presence. Through her sensitive observation, Shroff chronicles the banal to unravel the sublime within it. The sharp lines and the intense detailing underscore her meticulous approach to her medium of choice. While Shroff often includes watercolour (and more recently, gold leaf) in her drawings, the precision of the drawn line forms the definitive aspect of her oeuvre. Shroff’s works are born within the space of her sketchbook. The initial sketches metamorphose into detailed works that are the product of observation and interpretation. The drawings within the modest space of the sketchbook are sometimes substantially enlarged to the scale of installations, as seen in her “Corridors” series. The format of the book, however, remains close to Shroff. She has worked extensively with this format in the past and continues to use it as the base for the initial framework. Shroff’s love for architecture and the stories that are folded within it is apparent in her “Party Wall” series that form something of a cornerstone in her practice. Her work on the “Party Wall” (shorthand for partisan walls that lie concealed between two buildings) began in 2015 while she was in London and has since, developed into the ‘Tokyo series’ and most recently, the ‘Interim Party Wall’ series inspired by her travels in Ho Chi Minh, London, Vadodara and Rome. The  Party Walls were presented along with two other series – ‘Transitions’ and ‘Guards at the Taj’, at TARQ’s debut participation at Art Basel Hong Kong 2018. The ‘Transitions’ series is a continuation of Shroff’s observation of floors in spaces of historical significance. These jewel-like works, created using watercolour and ink on paper, evoke the patient precision of a miniaturist’s hand. For Shroff, the discreet, unusual disjoints are the repositories of many collective and individual histories. The ‘Guards at the Taj’ on the other hand, started out as a project to create a set for a play of the same title. It has extended beyond its initial purpose to mark an interesting aesthetic development as she moves away  from her definitive stark, Japanese-inspired aesthetic to a more animated and whimsical style. Speaking about her relationship with drawing, Shroff says – “With drawings placed firmly at the centre of my practice, I experiment with drawing techniques, bringing attention to exaggerated marks, break points and the richness of line itself...(her works) aspire to become perimeters within which momentary recollections and personal musings are sustained.” Shroff started her artist training at The Faculty of Fine Arts, MSU, Baroda in 2002 after which, she continued on to the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design (UK) in 2003. She has had six solo exhibitions in India, the UK and USA as well as several group shows. She has also participated in several artist residencies, most recently at the Swiss Cottage Gallery in Camden, London. Her work was a part of TARQ’s presentation at the India Art Fair 2017 and most recently, at Art Basel Hong Kong 2018. Shroff currently lives and works between Mumbai and Tokyo.


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