Rajkumari Sharma Tankha
As an artist, she often wondered why furniture, which takes up so much room in any living space, must be in boring shades of brown? She felt tempted that there is such a large blank canvas available to us yet all we want is various shades of browns. Convinced that there were many possibilities to change that, she began working with drawing unconventional designs on paper and made a lot of pencil sketches, then digitally created them and made 2D, 3D versions. Only when she was suitably satisfied that they would work, did she venture into the physical process of designing and painting on them.
Meet Manisha Gawade whose solo exhibition of unique art furniture and paintings, Keepsakes, at Alliance Francaise Art Gallery ends tomorrow. The show is presented by founder-director of Wild Ochre Anju Choudhary and curated by Dr Alka Raghuvanshi.
It has taken Manisha years of experimentation and tireless working to conceptualise, design and paint these art-furniture pieces, designed to energise living spaces. The paintings on furniture done by the artist are intrinsic to its being and pieces that you would love to own and pass on to the next generation, therefore becoming a keepsake forever..
Manisha spent 14 years in Dubai where she absorbed the cosmopolitan favours of West Asian cultures. She has been the first ever Indian artist to have received the patronage of His Highness Shiekh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler and Prime Minister of Dubai and Dubai Art and Culture Authority.
She has been an extensive traveller who has been trained in various forms of paintings in several parts of the world. Her work is a fusion of the Indian, Western and Arabic culture-scape. Some of her fascinating masterpieces form a part of The National Museum of Contemporary Art in Argentina. Her genre forms a part of some intrinsic art collections in India, France, UK, US, UAE, Qatar, Oman and Argentina.
A tete-a-tete with the artist:
When you say these art-furniture pieces are designed to energise living spaces, what do you mean?
Till now, we have mostly seen furniture in shades of boring browns and have deprived our spaces of colour. These pieces change the mood and shapes of regular furniture patterns and give a vivid interplay of colour and innovative design and energies the spaces where they are used.
The most challenging piece you have created so far and what was it that made the entire process so fulfilling?
The vanity and jewellery chest of drawers in the shape of a women’s cocktail dress that I call- Pretty Scarlet and jokingly Sheela ki jawani! The work done on this piece is inspired by my painting, Sunset Yellows. The size of the piece is 4 ft x 2 ft. From the production point of view, it was difficult to make and then painting it entails a lot of drip lines in acrylic inks. The sheer physicality of moving it at the correct angles to create the long drips lines was quite a feat! It wasn’t easy to move around something that had such a lot of weight and volume.
Are these pieces multi-functional?
A lot of pieces have multi-functional uses, depends where they are placed. For instance, the chest of drawers can be used to store anything, from makeup to jewellery or even be a lingerie cabinet if it is in a feminine space. In a male “den”, it can be a sensual piece that stores cards, rummy chips and other sundry game objects. In a couple space, it can be a shared piece with small objects from a couple’s personal usage from male watches, cufflinks to ties too finding a space in it. The tables can used as coffee tables or centre tables or side tables or double up as party platforms as and when required.
You have travelled the world and have been trained in various forms of paintings. Which form are you most comfortable in and why?
Exploring the world gave me so many varied perspectives on design, usability and art. Although I have learnt various forms of art and specialise in glass, wood, textiles and abstracts, although an unforgiving surface wood has been my personal favourite as it has endless possibilities and durability.
Where in the world do you get genuine art connoisseurs; people who understand art?
Genuine art connoisseurs are everywhere where culture has been embedded in the heart of the country’s culture. South East Asia – China, Japan, Western Europe and England have great repository of art and people who have taken it many steps further. India needs many more.
Take us through your life till now…
My father was a journalist and a man of fine taste. My mother was an educationalist with a vision. They were almost a century ahead of their times. Although they are both not with me anymore, their teachings have always been an inspiration in whatever I do.
I started my early life as an aviation personnel and worked in the aviation industry for about 18 years. I hold many degrees in the field and worked with the Emirates Airlines for 10 years as a network controller. Psychology is my favourite subject and many of my paintings depict themes on human behaviour and interaction.
When was the first time you felt the urge to express yourself through painting?
I must have been five or six years and used to make paintings on every surface I came across.
What is Manisha Gawade doing when she is not painting?
Finding newer things to work with. It is very difficult to get me out of a stationary store. I am a people’s person and believe in real friendships that could be anywhere in the world.
Your favourite artist/ painter today…
I have always admired Sohan Qadri works for their minimalism and spiritual handling.
Your opinion of the increasing number of art fairs being organised across the country. Would these, in your opinion, help artists reach out to the masses?
I feel art fairs should be decently priced and be more artist-friendly. At the moment, most artists can’t even hope to get there.