First U.S. Solo Exhibition of Madhvi Parekh to be Presented at DAG in New York
Retrospective Spans Five Decades of the Artist’s Practice and Brings Together Over 65 Works for the First Time in the U.S.
New York, NY, July 25, 2019 (Updated August 22, 2019) – DAG today announced its presentation of a major retrospective of Indian artist Madhvi Parekh, spanning more than five decades of the artist’s practice and bringing together over 65 of her works for the first time. Opening September 13, The Curious Seeker marks the debut of the artist’s work in the United States and follows the exhibition’s presentation at DAG’s spaces in Delhi and Mumbai.
In conjunction with the exhibition and throughout its run, DAG will present a robust series of public talks, performances, and other educational and public programming, including a preview with the artist on Thursday, September 12, presented in collaboration with the Consulate General of India in New York and featuring a contemporary dance performance; and a children’s workshop on Saturday, September 14, led by Parekh and inspired by her children’s book, Madhvi’s Magical Daydreams.
“Madhvi Parekh has often been narrowly defined within the tradition of folk art in India, yet her practice defies categorization—reflecting her own distinct language, as well as wide-ranging influences that deserve further exploration,” said Kishore Singh, curator of the exhibition and Head of Exhibitions and Publications at DAG. “Bringing together works from every decade of her practice, this retrospective finally places Parekh squarely within the pantheon of Indian modernism.”
Parekh is recognized by scholars as one of the most significant living Indian artists, who has established her own oeuvre and language in contrast to the artistic conventions of her time. With no formal education in art, her work initially evolved from childhood memories, popular folk stories, legends of her village, and the forms of painting that were part of her family’s everyday rituals, such as the traditional floor designs of rangoli. Inspired by her artist-husband Manu Parekh and artists such as Paul Klee and Joan Miró, Parekh began painting in 1964. Her paintings are unplanned, unfolding like a story where she adapts each work to the scale it demands and developing from a single point into vast narratives.
Apart from folk motifs, legends, and figures, Parekh also uses imaginary characters in figurative and abstracted orientations in her compositions, demonstrating her use of rhythm and repetition. In most of her works, she utilizes the familiar settings and motifs of Kalamkari, a traditional hand-painted or block-printed cotton textile, and Pichwai, devotional pictures on cloth or paper, in which she enshrines the main character of the composition in the center and fills the minor or secondary ones in the borders.
Spanning five decades, The Curious Seeker offers an unparalleled opportunity to explore Parekh’s evolution as an artist, from her roots in folk tradition, to the myriad ways that she diverged from conventions to create her own distinctive style. The exhibition features iconic works by the artist that together represent every phase of her illustrious career, including rare drawings and paintings from the 1960s, influenced by the abstraction of Paul Klee, and significant examples of works that feature recurring themes and subjects across her practice, including the countryside of India, religious imagery, and anthropomorphic forms.
Highlights of the exhibition include:
- Running Figure, 1972; Flying Figure, 1974: An example of Parekh’s early works, Running Figure and Flying Figure demonstrate the influence of Klee and Miró with stunted, stubbed lines and dots that create individual patterns, and simultaneously combine into a complete narrative.
- Fantasy Under Sea, 1979; Head B, 1976; Sea God, 1971: These three works are prime examples of the artist’s works of the seventies, featuring bulbous, amorphous, changeable forms and shapes, and ballooning creatures with human attributes. They come together to represent joyous universes of living beings.
- Playing with Animals, 1989: Playing with Animals demonstrates the influence of the artist’s personal memories and children in her practice. The work explores her happy childhood spent in the fields of her village as part of the rhythm of life, encompassing nature and seasons, birds and beasts, and her friends.
- Untitled (Durga II), 2006: This is part of a series in which the artist humanizes the goddess with the familiar folklore that surrounds her reflected playfully even as she creates a world of demons and the mythology of struggle between good and evil in a manner that points to its everyday presence in our lives
- World of Magician, 2004: World of Magician reveals Parekh’s recurring interest in dividing and compartmentalizing her works in visually distinct chapters that come together to form larger narratives.
- The Last Supper, 2011: Considered one of Parekh’s most significant works to date, the artist’s recreation of Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper responds to the masterpiece by bringing together Christian genres of art with visual strategies from a range of different eras and religious cultures.
Madhvi Parekh: The Curious Seeker
This exhaustive publication on the artist aims to understand, contextualise, and place her contributions within the larger context of Indian modern art. Published by DAG and edited by Kishore Singh, the publication includes essays by Gayatri Sinha, art editor, critic, and curator; Dr. Annapurna Garimella, designer and art historian; and Singh; as well as hundreds of high quality reproductions of the artist’s work. The publication is available for sale at the gallery.
Madhvi’s Magical Daydreams
This children’s book for ages 5 to 10 is authored by Madhvi Parekh and tells the story of her childhood and becoming an artist. Published by DAG, the book is available for sale at the gallery.
SEPTEMBER 2019 PROGRAMMING AT DAG NEW YORK
Private Preview of The Curious Seeker | Thursday September 12, 7-9pm
Presented in collaboration with the Consulate General of India in New York, DAG will open The Curious Seeker with a special preview and cocktail reception with the artist, as well as her husband, renowned artist Manu Parekh. In response to the exhibition and as an homage to Parekh’s work, dancers Parul Shah and Ammr Vandal of the Parul Shah Dance Company will perform an excerpt of History of Unforgetting, a short, contemporary dance piece influenced by Kathak, a classical Indian dance.
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Madhvi’s Magical Daydreams: Children’s Workshop with Madhvi Parekh | Saturday, September 13, 4-5pm
In this workshop designed for children of ages five to 12 years old, artist Madhvi Parekh and Anu Sehgal, Founder and President of The Culture Tree, will lead children in drawing from their memories and experiences to create stories through images, much like Parekh did in her children’s book, Madhvi’s Magical Daydreams. Children will not only get to spend the morning exploring the artworks on display and creating their own, but will also get to take home a copy of Parekh’s book.
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Jaipur Literature Festival Opening Night | Thursday, September 17, 6:30-9:30pm
Teamwork Arts, producer of the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF), brings one of the world’s largest literary gatherings to New York for the third time in 2019, on September 17-18. Presented in partnership with the Asia Society, this year’s New York edition celebrates books, ideas, and dialogue. It will present a rich showcase of South Asia's literary and oral heritage, with internationally acclaimed authors and thinkers taking part in a range of provocative panels and debates about ideas and issues that resonate with our times. The festival is also presented in partnership with Columbia University.
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