It has been a long while since I have written my blog. When my mother passed away in January of 2014 I think I was so completely devastated by the suddenness of her death that I buried myself into my work so that I could cope with my loss. My studio hours grew longer and my sleep-time became even more reduced, leaving me vulnerable to falling ill and worn down by sheer exhaustion on one too many occasion. I have come to realise that for myself I don't believe I will ever grow to miss her less over time. That's a myth propagated by those who don't know what loss is really all about. However I also knew that my mother would be rather mortified by the teary soul that I had become, and so I thought long and hard and knew that I had to find a strategy by which I could negotiate my own peace settlement with my anguish. Travel has always been the map that helps me to formulate my ideational territories and trigger introspection that is soul searching. And so I did just that. I walked away from my disciplined studio routine chose to steep my mind into art history and the contemporary practices of other artists - to look and immerse myself in re-tracings and new discoveries of art and traditional cultural practices.
I set my compass from my personal desire. I visited South Korea for two weeks in September to see the Gwangju biennale and visit Seoul. I spent most of my time with Kim Seola and Lee Hayan in both these cities. Both artists had been with us as art students and resident artists at The Collective Studio Baroda for a protracted period of time. This destination was chosen because Seola was being presented in the Gwangju Biennale and Hayan was getting married shortly, so for me it was a visit of great preciousness. The time spent with them unfolded discourses and reverie amidst late nights of fun and a studio visit with Seola way past midnight above a karaoke bar, with us sipping green tea and talking about her work.
On the eve of my departure from Seoul I made a sudden plan to break journey in Bangkok for a week. Their traditional art is exquisite and they have a national museum of seven buildings which houses some magnificent art of the past to view. Thailand has a vibrant street culture. I love the street food of this country and so each night I would pick up large quantities of mouth watering delicacies and finger wipe my plate to the last crumb! With my own history interlaced with this country and great memories of my teenage years growing up with Thai friends who frequented our home regularly in Baroda; my visit to Bangkok provided me the space to reconnect with memories of my mother that were cherished and deeply personal.
With a short stint home and a commission work to execute, I had a brief period of intense work that was really very stimulating. This provided for me the appropriate link for my next travel to commence. Spain was the country I had chosen to travel to, and so the 2nd of October to the 5th of November got marked up on my calendar - making up a month and a few days of wanderlust and time unfettered by the demands of work and other daily commitments of management to attend to . An exacting itinerary of twelve cities were detailed and researched under my supervision by Divya who is at The Collective Studio Baroda (TCSB). I was accompanied by Ankush Safaya, one of the resident artists of TCSB, and so the evenings each day in Spain became a time to explore and decipher Spanish food from menus's that were often without English translations' and which therefore made an interesting area of discoveries - with a few mishaps that make for great anecdotes!
I spent my birthday in the Prado museum and saw the Guernica by Pablo Picasso once again after many years. Spain gave to me so much art to view. It was as though this warm and hospitable country knew my need and set out to comfort me with an embrace of art that engulfed my sensibilities and rebooted me just as I required. The trail of museums were many and the list of artists too long to share, but suffice to say I met up with old friends from the annals of art history who spoke back to me with the same intensity and once again demanded my accountability through the perceptions I formulated.
I came back to India and within the next fortnight (and on the spur of the moment) decided to visit Kangra, Chandighar, Hoshiyarpur, Dharamshala and Mclouedganj. Driving with Divya and Ankush in these hilly regions brought alive the miniature paintings that I love so much from these regions.
Family took me back into a plane again within days. I went for a family wedding to Bangalore. There, memories of my mother were almost 360 degrees and more. Meeting up with her relatives, I found the echo of her past in so many places. My mother was much loved and so many stories about her youth and childhood were unknowingly gifted to me.
I'm back in my studio again…
My mother looks back at me quizzically from her photograph that I have on my work desk. Perhaps she knows too well the dilemmas of love and loss herself and understands how much I miss her. But I can now look back at her without my vision being too blurred. I think she is rather pleased about that because weepy children were never her cup of tea.