Tehkhana exhibition – preserving and appreciating memories

by Ekatmata Sharma
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Art Centrix Space brings Custodians of Time – ‘Tehkhana’ – an exhibition of preserving and appreciating memories. The unique exhibition curated by Monica Jain is a repository of memories, which unravel through visual narratives – contemporary paintings, old artifacts, ancient artifacts and bespoke wood furniture. The show was opened with short anecdotes by a mother, father and daughter trio from the old zamindar family of Pilibhit. Reina Swaroop, a self-taught painter who is also blessed with a heightened sixth sense, her daughter Piyanka Swaroop a spiritualist who works to empower women through self-identity and self-expression and Bharat Swaroop who has his personal stories of his family’s heirlooms shared their experiences. Rina’s works are serene abstracts in pastels with a allusion of spiritualism in them. Rina shares, “I have always believed and felt personally that I am protected by my guardian angel. We all have guardian angels that protect us in difficult times. My works depict my belief system. All my works have angels in subtly their background.” They shared incredible stories of their very personal experiences, showcased some heirloom works of art that have been in their family for generations along with a secret culinary recipe for the attendees to savour. For eating together is the best way to bond and share stories.
unnamed__6_Bharat shared about his family heirlooms and the story of a Jade Dagger. “One of the first Indians to become the Governor of United Province was the Nawab of Chhatari when the Brits introduced Home Rule. An avid tennis player he partnered Kr Jyoti Swaroop of Pilibhit for the UP Doubles Championship played at the Metropole Hotel in Nainital. Kr Jyoti Swaroop was an excellent player, they won the championship. Nawab Saheb in the euphoria of winning presented his personal jade handled dagger as a gift to his partner. The handle is filigreed in gold and precious stones and is of Persian design. The dagger has remained as a family heirloom and my grandfather Kr Jyoti Swaroop always enjoyed telling us this story as well as many others as he was a keen sportsman and shikari and loved these story sessions sitting by the fireside on cold winter evenings about life and instances during the times of his childhood as well.”
unnamedMonica shares her vision to take the series of Tehkhana to the next level, making it an annual exhibit at the Space. “The first of kind series, as a concept, we will also discover the Tehkhana of individual homes upon request, sharing, documenting and archiving personal stories creatively through art so that each subsequent generation may cherish and pass on this legacy. Where people open up their homes and share their personal stories and connect to art through their experiences. The concept of the show basically revolves around valuing of ancient heirlooms and creating new ones by giving personal stories and memories in the concrete form of art.”
unnamed__1_Baroda based artist Ekta Singha creates a world of emotions and nostalgia with a particular sensitivity through images from daily life. Having never visited her native place, she has conjured up an image of that world through stories she has only heard from her grandparents. Thus, drawing heavily from personal history, she uses photographs, texts, prints, found images and objects juxtaposing them in a way that their familiar contexts are broken down and new emotional associations are made. Intricate patterns are integral to her works as a fascination for the past led her to finding true beauty in old Rajput and Mughal miniature paintings.
Sahaya Sharma’s photographs printed on canvas were clicked in Kochi this year, walking from one Biennale spot to another. Drawn to the rustic texture of chipping paint and its unavoidable narrative of nostalgia, The Claim to Frame series sets the artist’s mind on a marathon of questions- do these spaces stand abandoned / locked / Unlocked/ Barred / Ajar? They are really an exploration into capturing the essence of physical time.
unnamed__4_Objects and images from childhood unlock a world of happy memories through the delicate etchings by Sonal Varshneya from Lucknow. Quirky and nostalgic, these objects are a subjective association with a joyous past. The delicate lines, pastel colours and the sheer simplicity of subject matter have a rainbow-like quality that is soft and romantic.
Steeped in the culture of Lucknow, Mainaz Bano paintings are modern tales employing Awadhi motifs. Reminiscent of a Nawabi culture known for the coexistence of both Hindu and Muslim traditional motifs, her works juxtapose elements from the contemporary and the ancient. She designs and prints the background on paper or paints it on canvas then goes on to meticulously gold leaf selected elements. Space is treated like Indian miniatures; the flatness of plane broken only by the dimensionality and treatment of the elements in the foreground.
unnamed__3_The other artists who are exhibiting at the show are Aditya Vikas Agarawal, Saurabh Singh, V. Ramakrishna and Debjani Bharadwaj. “We all have these personal memories that we cherish and want to pass it on to the future generations. We can create our heritage and heirloom now. Therefore, I am asking people to share their treasures and preserve them, so that they can pass it on to their future generations. So, whether its personal stories, food, book, culture, spirituality all is related to art. These young contemporary exhibited their works revolving around their personal stories,” Monica concludes.
Date – Continues till 15th July, 2017
Timings – 11am to 6pm (Sundays closed)
Venue – Art Centrix Space, Jain Farm, Behind D2, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi

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