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Art Basel Hong Kong 2018

Vishwa Shroff

29 March - 31 March, 2018

“Building Artefacts” is a project by Vishwa Shroff that brings together three recent bodies of work – ‘Interim Party Walls’, ‘Transitions’ and ‘Guards at the Taj’. These meticulously created paper works build on ideas first explored in Shroff’s 2016 solo exhibition “Drawn Space” at TARQ while also reflecting the evolving real-life contexts for the artist. These drawings explore the narrative potential of spaces and objects otherwise considered banal – inconspicuous corners, walls and floors.

The ‘Interim Party Walls’ (short for partisan walls) is a series consisting of several small works that were inspired by the artist’s travels over the last year. The images are reflective of her previous, Tokyo series, but take their cues from entirely new spaces. These works form a cornerstone of sorts for the project, given that Shroff has explored the transient spaces between buildings (real and under construction), starting in 2015 in London. The ‘Party Walls’ are emblematic of her engagement with her surroundings, and form a core of her practice at large. The ‘Transitions’ series is a set of small wall mounted works, and one long work displayed on a table, that looks at the trajectories of change at a variety of public buildings in London, through the stories told by the changes in the flooring. Each delicate ‘Transition’ is created through detailed observation of the flooring of a space and documents the intricate shifts institutions deal with over time.

The ‘Guards at the Taj’ series started as a set-design project for a play of the same title that was staged in Mumbai in 2017. These works draw upon the iconic design and architectural motifs of the Taj Mahal to create a narrative of the relationship between this monument and the people connected to it. This series also marks an aesthetic evolution for Shroff as she moved from her definitive stark, Japanese-inspired aesthetic to a more animated and whimsical style.

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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 five 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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