Earth as Haven: under the canopy of love – A solo exhibition by Indian artist Jayashree Chakravarty, curated by Roobina Karode

Carte blanche à Jayashree Chakravarty (18 October – 15 January 2017) at ​Musée National Des Arts Asiatiques, Guimet, Pa​ris ​in collaboration with Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi, supported by Akar Prakar, Embassy of France in India & Embassy of India in France.

Inauguration: Monday, 16 October 2017 at 7pm at Musée National Des Arts Asiatiques Guimet, Paris, France.
Press Conference: Tuesday, 17 October 2017 10am to 1pm at Musée National Des Arts Asiatiques Guimet.

The project at ​Musée Guimet is one of the most enterprising undertakings by Jayashree Chakravarty, responding to the specificity of the site, setting and scale as well as to the circular plan of the rotunda. In the transformed ambience of the Carte Blanche space, one encounters a large, suspended paper structure, an imaginary form inspired by the tiny wasp-house/cocoon but built in massive proportions, making it possible for viewers to enter into and experience her insect-world. Bare from the outside, the canopy quite like cave-forms and natural shelters, is inviting with its sensual earthiness and dark layered interior that at a closer look, unfolds hidden mysteries. The delicate ribbed armature of this built form echoes the shape of shanties scattered over the city of Kolkata, and also brings to mind the slender ribbed-vaults of Gothic architecture. Hanging above the ground, it appears like a slow crawling form, with the partly visible feet of visitors conceived as an inherent part of the insect-form. The seventeen large soaring paper scrolls displayed around as a continuous curtain, transform the space of the rotunda, creating an immersive environment for a deeper engagement.

Earth as Haven rhymes with and alludes to heaven, and perhaps to a utopian desire, but the artist here is more significantly immersed in retrieving the earth as a place of refuge and shelter for all visible and invisible forms of life that inhabit its soil, air, water and sunlight and enjoy its fecundity. Referring to the interiority of wombs, cocoons and nests, it is unadorned from the outside while the inside unfolds a world inhabited by tiny insect-forms- beetles, flies, ants and glow-worms that sparkle and illuminate the dark core of the earth. A play of camouflage, quite like in nature offers sudden moments of surprise and discovery, often challenging the naked eye, demanding a microscopic investigation. The aroma of the earth, the palpable sensuousness of the surface, the ​​sense of felt movement in silence, the radiance of the sparkling insect-bodies, all add to the strange beauty of this make-believe haven.

Jayashree’s over-riding concern to restore the fragile core of the earth, still beautiful and fertile, but equally frail and vulnerable, continues to stimulate her artistic pursuits. Contemporary and relevant, her concerns go beyond geographical boundaries, cultural differences and political motives. Through poetic evocations, her soaring handmade forms amplify the pressing need for a sustainable ecology of life and living.

Biography of the artist JAYASHREE CHAKRAVARTY

Jayashree Chakravarty (b. 1956) studied at the best art institutions in India, first, at Viswa Bharati in the sprawling natural environs of Santiniketan, a school founded by Rabindranath Tagore who encouraged learning in the open and under the shade of a tree, and then at the Faculty of Fine Arts at the MS University of Baroda, where she was exposed to an urban/contemporary sensibility. Her visual register constituted of natural and urban spaces, caught in phases of disparity and confrontation. She was influenced by Indian artists from the preceding generation, mainly Ganesh Pyne, Somnath Hore and K.G.Subramanyan whose breadth of vision opened up the innumerable possibilities of art making for successive generations. She completed her B.F.A, from Kala Bhavana, Viswa Bharati University, Santiniketan and later she pursued her Post-Diploma in Painting from the Faculty of Fine Arts, Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda. She was also an artist in residence at Aix en Provence from 1993-95 where she was influenced in the formative years of her practice by the French movement Supports/Surfaces, especially by Claude Viallat and also had conversations with some of the group members at the time. Willem de Kooning, Kiefer, Eva Hasse, Kiki Smith and Anish Kapoor have remained an inspiration to her.

Jayashree’s distinctive art practice over the last three decades has expressed her deep concerns related to ecology and environmental catastrophe. Inventing her own art making techniques, using organic material and varied kinds of papers, her installations in the form of paper scrolls remain unique in their conceptions and execution.

The artist has had several exhibitions with Gallery Akar Prakar, having shown last year at ​Musée Des Art Asiatique, Nice, in collaboration with KNMA, New Delhi, Embassy of India in France and ICCR. In 2016, solo show at Vadehra Art Gallery in New Delhi, followed by Unfolding Kuchinan presented by Akar Prakar, Kolkata. Her works were also showcased in Continuing Traditions, at Musee Toile de Jouy, France in collaboration with Akar Prakar in 2015. Jayashree has shown at various exhibitions in India and abroad including Aicon Gallery, Singapore Art Museum, Gallery Chemould Prescott, Vadehra Art Gallery, Jehangir Art Gallery, CIMA, NGMA, Mumbai, The Art Centre, Akar Prakar and Religare Art among others. In 2011 she was part of Enduring Legacy, by Akar Prakar, at Galerie Neumeister Munchen, the Indian Embassy, Berlin along with the ICCR & Indien Institut.

The artist lives and works in Kolkata, India

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