, Samanta Batra Mehta
, Savia Mahajan06 June - 10 August, 2019
The team at TARQ is thrilled to present Osmosis—a group exhibition of artists Rithika Merchant, Samanta Batra Mehta, and Savia Mahajan, curated by Shaleen Wadhwana. The exhibition, which is a result of months of conversations between the artists and the curator, works with the ideas and the knowledge of the symbiotic universal truths of life, namely death, distance and belonging – which are beautifully articulated in a catalogue essay.
Wadhwana says,”Looking at different artists’ practises, one often studies their points of intersection to understand where, and if, they meet. Recording collected histories, myths and stories, through mark making with pigment and ink, is where the practises of Savia, Rithika and Samanta form a conjoined language. They lend the viewer an insight into their ideas of how they feel at ‘home’ and their phoenix-like acceptance: that new life arises on the ashes of its predecessor.”
In the exhibition, Wadhwana explores how each of the artists decodes the cyclical processes of life and death while unpacking an understanding of what distance and belonging mean. The artists investigate these ideas in their works, through interactions with nature, politics, culture, society, religion, history and geography. Each floor of TARQ has been envisioned as a point of thematic intersection between the artists’ practises, through their use of mediums; all three engage intensely with drawing. While Rithika Merchant and Samanta Batra Mehta incorporate layering in their two dimensional works, Savia Mahajan and Samanta Batra Mehta work with three dimensional found objects, with Mahajan specifically engaging deeply with ceramic. This immersive display invites the viewers to place themselves at crossroads of three diverse artists’ practises and take a pause to reflect on their ‘osmotic’ ideas.
This exhibition is presented in partnership with Access For All initiative, they are the Accessibility Consultant for Osmosis.
About the Curator
Shaleen Wadhwana (b. 1991) received a BA History (Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi) and MA Art History and Archaeology (SOAS, London), and has academic expertise in Art Appreciation (National Museum Institute, Delhi). She is a recipient of the Scholarship of Excellence for Cultural Heritage Law (University of Geneva) and is a Young India Fellow (Ashoka University). She has presented her academic research on embedded histories in objects looted during the 1857 Mutiny at University College London. She has previously worked in museums and galleries like the Heritage Transport Museum, Haryana and Chemould Prescott Road Gallery, Mumbai. Shaleen curates art and heritage based experiences for a wide spectrum of audiences. These range from universities like Michigan, Harvard, and IISER to NGOs like Slam Out Loud, and the Government of Maharashtra. She has recently co-authored an article for the Ministry of External Affairs of India about the impact of the Lodi Art District on its nearby communities.
Presently, she is a visiting faculty at the Design Management Department of MIT Institute of Design, Pune and the Humanities curriculum designer for their Innovation programme. Osmosis marks the beginning of her curatorial journey, the idea of which was born in her classroom in Pune.
About Access For ALL
Access For ALL provides all formats of accessibility solutions. They aim at pushing the boundaries of physical, intellectual and social access through innovative, indigenous design and advocacy while fostering an INCLUSIVE experiential culture. The team focuses on access audits, universal - design, interpretation & educational activities, inclusive outreach programs, sensitization & awareness workshops, Braille-tactile kits, Braille books and CSR based engagement programs.
They have worked with the India Art Fair, Kochi Muziris Biennale, Serendipity Arts Festival, National Museum, UNESCO New Delhi, City Palace Jaipur, Malaysia - Sarawak Public Library, Mehrangarh Fort, and corporate CSR projects with Goldman Sachs, Standard Chartered and other companies.AFA has undertaken projects in India, Malaysia, China, Pakistan and are keen on sharing their knowledge and growing a network of cultural accessibility in South Asian and African countries. Access For ALL was recently invited to represent Asia in Madrid for an International Congress on Museums, Arts and Accessibility. Access For All is one of India's first social enterprises to receive Nipman Foundation MICROSOFT Equal Opportunity Award 2018 under Enabler segments.
Rithika Merchant (b. 1986) received her Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from Parsons - The New School of Design, New York (2008). Since graduating, she has exhibited her work extensively, including a number of solo exhibitions in India, Spain, Germany, France and the United States.
Her most recent solo shows include Where the Water Takes us at TARQ, Mumbai (2017); Ancestral Home at Galeria Bien Cuadrado, Barcelona (2017); Intersections at Galeria Combustion Espontanea, Madrid (2016); Luna Tabulatorum at Stephen Romano Gallery, New York (2015); and Encyclopedia of the Strange at Tiny Griffon Gallery, Nuremberg (2014).
Her recent group exhibitions include Spring! A Group Show of Contemporary Drawing at Galerie LJ, Paris (2019); Homo Faber at The Michaelangelo Foundation, Venice ( 2018) ; Portal at October Gallery, London (2018); Sensorium / The End Is Only The Beginning Sunaparanta, Goa Centre for the Arts, Goa (2018); This Burning Land Belongs To You at the Swiss Cottage Gallery, London (presented by TARQ for Camden Kala, UK/ India Year of Culture 2017); Language of the Birds: Occult and Art at 80WSE Gallery, New York (2016); and a two-person show, Reliquaries: The Remembered Self at TARQ, Mumbai (2015). Her work has also been included in group shows at The New Gallery, Calgary (2017); Summerhall, Edinburgh (2015) and The Morbid Anatomy Museum, New York (2015).
She has also collaborated with Chloé, a French fashion house on multiple collections for which she was awarded the Vogue India Young Achiever of the Year Award at its Women of the Year Awards 2018. She was also named one of Vogue Magazine’s Vogue World 100 Creative Voices.
She currently divides her time between Mumbai and Barcelona.
Samanta Batra Mehta's work has been exhibited at various international venues including at the Queens Museum of the Arts, the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, Aicon Gallery and Saffronart in New York, the Hunterdon Museum and the Visual Arts Center, New Jersey, the Taubman Museum of Art, Virgina and the NIU Museum, Illinois, Fondazione Fotographia, Modena and Artopia, Milan.
She has had solo exhibitions at Shrine Empire, Delhi, Sakshi Gallery, Mumbai and at Art Basel Hong Kong in the ‘Discoveries’ section. Her first solo exhibition in 2014, ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’, with Shrine Empire, New Delhi was nominated for the Forbes India Art Award in the ‘Best Debut Solo’ category. She has participated in several group exhibitions throughout India including at Bodhi Art Gallery, Gallery BMB, Gallery OED, Gallery Sumukha and Tarq in Mumbai. In 2014, Samanta’s work was included in the ‘Reading Room’, a partner exhibition at the Kochi Biennale 2014.
Her work has been showcased at leading art fairs such as at Art Basel, Hong Kong, Art Dubai, India Art Fair, Bologna Arte Fiere, and Salon Du Dessin Contemporain at the Carrousel du Louvre in Paris where she was invited to make a large site-specific mural. Samanta is the recipient of the Joan Mitchell Foundation's 2014-2015 Painters & Sculptors Grant Award in the US. She was shortlisted for the Sovereign Asian Art Prize in 2017. Her works are included in several collections in India and abroad including at Fondazione Fotografia Cassa di Risparmio di Modena in Italy, the RPG Group, the Jindal Collection, Birla Art Foundation, among others.
Born in New Delhi, the artist currently lives and works in New York
Savia Mahajan began her formal artistic training in her home city of Mumbai, at the L.S. Raheja School of Art. Though she trained as a painter, since 2010, Savia’s practice began moving away from the medium of painting, towards ceramics. The transition was the result of a “relinquishing of traditional art mediums (and) a deeper inquiry about practice.” She has since, worked extensively at a local pottery studio in Mumbai, which has given her the space to experiment and develop many of her ceramic processes and techniques.
These developments in Savia’s practice resulted in Liminal—her first solo exhibition at TARQ in September, 2017. This was followed by a landmark group exhibition—Mutable: Ceramics and Clay Art in India Since 1947, curated by Dr. Annapurna Garimella and Sindhura D.M. at the Piramal Art Foundation, Mumbai.
Savia has recently been a part of several projects including solo project Resurgō at TARQ’s booth, Art Basel, Hong Kong (2019); and group presentations including the Second Edition of The Sculpture Park, The Madhvendra Palace, Nahargarh Fort, Jaipur, curated by Peter Nagy (2018-19) and the Indian Ceramics Triennale, Jaipur, (2018).
Savia lives in Mumbai and works in a Ceramic studio consisting of a gas kiln which she set up in an Industrial space in Mumbai, 2018.
Art of Learning With Bose
As in life, when it comes to art, one never stops learning. The biggest impediment to an artist's career is if he allows himself to stagnate. Unless he keeps his mental batteries constantly charged, they will rust like moss gathering on surface that hasn't been tended.
It was thus heartening to see Bose Krishnamachari — one of the city's foremost artists — post on social media how he's been doing the rounds of some of the best galleries in the city, soaking in the artwork.
Krishnamachari posted photographs of the works he had seen while on an art-watching spree at TARQ, Art Musings and Chemould Prescott Road. Now, that should be a lesson for all budding artists who seek constant self-improvement.
Mid-day29 Jul 2019
Mapping The Personal-Collective Memory With Samanta Batra Mehta
Samanta Batra Mehta finds a sense of permanence in the ephemeral. Contemplating on, often reimagining, her family’s generational migratory history, the inter-disciplinary Indian artist creates multi-layered pieces that mirror a state of being in a flux. Batra Mehta who was born in Delhi and grew up in Mumbai spent the first few years of her life on a ship. Now, it’s been over a decade since she’s made New York her home. An “incorrigible collector”, she will often use found objects that come with their own embedded histories and that reflect her preoccupations at the time of acquisition. She juxtaposes these evocative objects with her own ink-based drawings.
Batra Mehta’s work has been showcased at galleries across the world, from New York to Hong Kong, and at some of the world’s leading art fairs. Some of her newer works are on show through August 10 at TARQ (Mumbai) in a group show titled ‘Osmosis’ curated by Shaleen Wadhwana. We attempt to unravel the intricacies of this artist’s work and the myriad interpretations they hold. Excerpts from the interview…
Design Pataki23 Jul 2019
Navigating Rithika Merchant’s Fantastical Worlds Steeped In Modern Myth
People tend to associate femininity with things which are beautiful but passive, vulnerable, and weak. I strive to break the stereotype of how women are often portrayed in art – either as muses or for their aesthetic qualities. I would like my work to open up a discussion about how women are viewed within society and the role that they are often forced to play. ” – Rithika Merchant
To ponder over Rithika Merchant’s richly detailed paintings is to go down a rabbit hole. Hybrid creatures—half-human, half-animal—totemic iconography and botanical imagery populate the strange and fantastical worlds that she dreams up. Working out of her studio in Barcelona, she employs the gauche and ink technique on stained paper to achieve desaturated or muted colours that lend each of her creations an ethereal, almost otherworldly quality.
Merchant, whose work has been showcased at galleries in Paris, Madrid, New York and Lisbon, is in the process of working on a series for a solo show at Galerie LJ in Paris. Notably, she’s one of the rare visual artists who has enjoyed free reign working with a luxury fashion brand. We had the chance to catch up with this fascinating artist, whose works are on show at TARQ in Mumbai at an ongoing group exhibition titled Osmosis. Excerpts from the interview…
Design Pataki08 Jul 2019
The Circle of Life and Death
A new exhibition sees three female artists explore these concepts in their individual ways
Life and death are one thread, the same line viewed from different sides. These famous words by Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu in a way encapsulate what’s in store for viewers when they visit Osmosis, an art exhibition which is currently underway at Tarq, an art gallery located in Colaba, Mumbai. Curated by Shaleen Wadhwana, it features the works of artists Rithika Merchant, Samanta Batra Mehta and Savia Mahajan. Each of them uses different mediums such as drawings, paintings in watercolour and ink, assemblage and collages, ceramic sculptures, found objects and digital prints to explore the universal truths of life as well as death while deciphering the meaning of distance and belonging.
DNA17 Jun 2019
Reflections on Osmotic Ideas
A group show, explores the ideas of life, death, and belonging says Zahra Amiruddin
Educator and curator, Shaleen Wadhwana, brings together histories, myths, and stories, embedded in intrinsic drawings and found materials in a group show, Osmosis. With artworks by artists Rithika Merchant, Samanta Batra Mehta, and Savia Mahajan, Wadhwana builds a contemplative space that answers symbiotic universal truths, and explores notions of home. The show was prompted by a question asked by one of Wadhwana’s students at the MIT Institute of Design in Pune, in 2018. While traversing through the historical evidence of social differences from the Harappan civilisation until present time, she was asked, “What is the History of Death?”
The three artists have resided in different continents, namely Europe, Asia, and North America, yet it’s the city of Mumbai that ties their pasts together. This is evident in Merchant’s work that repeats the presence of the crow — an ode to ‘Bombay’, the city of birds. Her whimsical paintings that rely on mysticism, are scattered by these black birds, and beaked heads on feathered female humanoids. This is reflective in her work ‘Trial by Fire’, inspired by the agnipariksha of Sita, and witch burning practices dating back to medieval times. Some of Merchant’s works are an exploration of feminine power, and identity, she draws this feathered female burning, surrounded by an apparent agitation of the crows. “They are possibly wondering about the fear that defiant, strong women cause and their successive punishment for not following societal norms,” elucidates Wadhwana.
The Hindu07 Jun 2019
The Art Life Continuum
A new exhibition tears down the walls between life and death the body and the mythic, memory and imagination As the site of birth, the wellspring of existence itself, a woman’s body is the knower and keeper of the secret of life.Therefore, when stories about creation, transformation, and transcendence are told in her voice, they sound most lucid,seem most vivid. Little wonder then, that art educator, Shaleen Wadhwana, has chosen three women artists to represent the “symbiotic universal truths of life, namely death, distance and belonging” for her curatorial debut, Osmosis. The group exhibition — comprising works of artists Rithika Merchant, Samanta Batra Mehta and Savia Mahajan at TARQ art gallery in Colaba — explores these constant yet mysterious ideas.
Mumbai Mirror10 Jun 2019
Verve Weekend Guide
Exploring themes of life, death, distance and belonging, Osmosis features works by three artists — Rithika Merchant, Samanta Batra Mehta, and Savia Mahajan, and is curated by Shaleen Wadhwana. Drawing on these universal turths of life, all the artists’ works form a ‘conjoined’ language when put together, owing to common myths, histories and stories that they focus on. As Wadhwana says, “They lend the viewer an insight into their ideas of how they feel at ‘home’ and their phoenix-like acceptance: that new life arises on the ashes of its predecessor.” Osmosis is on display at Tarq (F35/36, Dhanraj Mahal, Apollo Bunder, Colaba), Mumbai from June 7 to August 10.
Verve06 Jun 2019