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In a short span of time, Manisha Parekh has carved a niche
In a short span of time, Manisha Parekh has carved a niche for herself as an innovative artist keen to experiment with diverse themes, forms and genre, including her works in ink and gouache, paintings and intricate layered pieces on board, or her conceptual, site-specific installations.

The fluid rhythmic structure she seamlessly creates though her deft usage of closely linked harmonious forms, which unfold a larger vision, remains at the core of her art practice. The artist has always exhibited proficiency for form, texture and clear, scientific structure, clearly the main thrust of her style. She breathes life into inanimate objects, which may resemble the human body. According to the artist, the handling of figures in her creations is done in such a way as ‘to relax both muscular and pictorial tension.’

Her foray into art was not surprising since Manu and Madhavi Parekh, her parents, have been well known painters. Born in 1964, Manisha Parekh studied at M.S. University, Baroda, and later joined the Royal College of Art, London on INLAKS scholarship. The artist is the recipient of the Heinrich- Boll fellowship in Bonn (1994-95), the Erasmus Award- Hochschule der Kunste, Berlin (1993), and Cite Internationale des Arts, Paris (1992).

Her shows have been held at Sakshi Gallery, Mumbai (2006); Berkeley Square Gallery, London (2006), and Nature Morte, New Delhi (2004), among other galleries. Her recent exhibition at Bodhi Art, New York (2008) featured works that were a continuation of the process of creating the artist’s personal, non-verbal vocabulary, with a firm focus on space and matter.

Analyzing her work, British artist- lecturer Lin Holland has noted: “A tremendous amount of work is done below the surface (unseen). Time is an essential ingredient in order to reap the full rewards of her labors. She witnesses her artworks emerge in both subjective and objective frames of mind. As a prominent female artist of the postmodern era, Manisha Parekh is intent on her art practice being enriched by human relationships, daily rituals, and enjoyment of the essential routines of living. It’s important to her that the work does not exist in isolation from these elements, in fact they often fuel her creative practice, and the artist pursues quite a close interface between the two (aspects).”

Whilst the artist accepts that sensory experience and material object are different entities, her primary motive is to encapsulate feelings, observations and experiences, albeit fleeting, into an equivalent and (relevant) visual reality, through the usage of some simple tools as well as the transmogrification of basic materials.” With an aim of encapsulating these experiences, her oeuvre skillfully blends many disciplines like painting, drawing, relief and sculpture.

The creations, often made of small units, attain power and build scale through repetition of specific elements. However, the multiples are not mechanically framed. Akin to time-lapse films, they depict developmental changes, sequentially from one evolving thought to the next. The artist views her usage of the multiple, to put it in her words, as ‘thought carefully documented in different stages-with different nuances explored-pondering over an idea in many different ways, in an effort to capture the feeling”.

This curious approach reflects a desire to both exercise and abdicate control over the end product, allowing material and process to participate in the development of ensuing thought and the yield. This dynamic process reflects her willingness to let the work change course according to material qualities, or characteristics of format. It’s an integral facet of her creative process.

The small works once released onto the wall, often get organized into grid structures, giving a sense of discipline and order, against which ideas of difference and sameness can be tested through variation and repetition. However, some of her more recent works like ‘Longing-Desire’ and ‘Longing-Wish’ are larger in scale.

Her deliberate choice of materials is non-hierarchical in context of traditional artistic terms. Canvas and paint gives way to paper and ink. Exploring the opacity, transparency and densities of inks and papers, the artist is fascinated by they way germinate after coming in contact with different surfaces, appearing as if to nearly animate it.

Cord and rope are preferred over bronze or stone. Her keen relationship along with her ability to respond to the intrinsic quality of each individual material is the essence of her practice. She has stated: “I relish working with the purity of a material, narrowing down the boundaries in order to explore in greater depth. Qualities of fiber, surface, opacity, translucency etc become revealed over time and with regular handling.”

She aspires that whatever is created within the confines of studio should share direct connections with daily life. An appropriate metaphor for her art practice is perhaps the cyclical germination of growing forms, involving continuity and evolution.