Wandering Connections

- October 29, 2022
| By : Rohan Chauhan |

Wandering is the grammar that artist Madan Meena abides by in his artistic language. It is not wandering in vain – it is always a journey to make connections. Connections between heritage, culture, craft and people. The more he wanders, the more connections the artist makes. These connections manifest as maps, lines, motifs and intricate artworks

The exhibition also explores the connection of the artist with Ranthambore.

The Barahmasa series is Madan’s own interpretation of the classic series where seasons are used as metaphors for emotions of the Nayak and the Nayika. Madan takes out the animals and plants from the landscape and brings them to focus. Like emotions, the motifs of animals and plants change with each season. The motifs used are important discoveries made during his wanderings, for example, Chillies from Mathania (a village in Rajasthan) are used to depict a month.

With his interpretation, Madan has moved the canvas of the Barahmasa series to the contemporary. “While doing these silk-screen prints it took me a lot of time for tracings, finding appropriate images for juxtaposition, drawing graphics from the past, etc. Here the process itself is an experience while the final print is only a product of visual expression.” Madan’s artworks combine the rich miniature Kota-Bundi style with a contemporary artistic thought that is aesthetically executed.

The exhibition also explores the connection of the artist with Ranthambore. Madan has spent two decades documenting the rich tradition of mud wall paintings here. The Tiger is an important motif that has been painted by women for generations on the walls of their homes.

The trees used in the Tiger and Tigress series by Madan are silhouettes of the flora and fauna of the wild region of Ranthambore. The artworks, with iridescent backdrops, refined language of colour, meticulous details and the captivating motifs, create a new milestone in the trajectory of the artist.

The Wandering Connections exhibition sheds light on the Ajrakh series. Though Madan has been documenting textile crafts for a while, it is Ajrakh which holds his imagination captive.

The connection is easy to understand. The craft of Ajrakh is a layered and meticulous process and one that wanders between Sindh and Barmer. Madan is intrigued by the details and the meticulous process and the skilled craftspeople who are holding the fort of this diminishing craft. Ajrakh printing is not easy to execute and requires a finesse that not many can master.

Madan’s wanderings are not limited to complex narratives, his eye catches the nuances that define popular culture and plays with them. Nayak and Nayika, appear in a garden of Roses. The Red Rose motif was discovered by Madan at the age of six. He saw the motif on a match box and learned to copy and trace it.

The Nayak and Nayika are also transported to a courtyard framed with Mehrabs. The Mehrabs are again a recurring motif appearing in the artist’s childhood.

A recent addition to his repertoire is the “thirsty crow”. Madan concurs, “the theme is inspired by my visit to Kalibanga, one of the sites where the Indus Valley Civilization flourished. In this artwork there is a connection between the popular fable and the urns inspired by the pottery found in that era.

This play of artistic elements and experiences can also be seen on the cover of the coveted Muji diaries. “The cover is an ode to my memories depicted in the Kota-Bundi miniature style.”

Madan through this exhibition also wants to celebrate the connections between artists. His work is a collaboration with celebrated artists like Lukman and Waseem from Kota in Rajasthan.

The Wandering Connections exhibition is a visual expression of an artist’s journey as he carefully makes connections with the world around him through his imagery.

When – 11:00 am to 8:00 pm
Where – Annexe Art Gallery, IIC Delhi