Rhea Maheshwari

In December 2018, New Zealand based painter, Rhea Maheshwari came to WAA for a two month residency that culminated in the Annual Open Studio. The Open Studio was part of Mumbai Gallery Weekend 2019 on January 20th.

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She writes:

“Ornamental cartography is a way of mapping the world through a subjective lens. The maps we know emphasise clean lines, borders and boundaries that divide and colonise the world into manageable sections. This mirrors a cartesian dualistic perspective, where the mind and matter are thought of as two separate orders,  one is seen as active (mind) and one inert or passive (matter) and therefore knowable and controllable. Ornamental cartography is a process used to harmonise and balance out this relationship so both have an equal force. Ornament is a balance of two opposing forces, organic and mathematical, it exemplifies how nature and culture can come together in harmony to perpetually create something new. Similarly the disparity between mind and matter, or what we have and what we desire provoke us to act and this Mindful action or ‘karma’ is necessary in order to extend ourselves into the unknown.

Therefore my work is essentially tantric. Tantra has two meanings “that which enables extension” and loom weave and fabric.

I paint elements from my environment that I am drawn to and place them with an ornamental rhythm guiding the viewer’s eyes up, down and across the picture plane. This references patterned tapestries such as Toile de Jouy and Chinese wallpapers and emphasises the harmonious relationship between elements within the bigger picture.  I fill in the gaps with what i desire to see, weaving together visual and conceptual strands with my own bodily rhythm. Painting to me is an act of harmonising disparate elements- with contrasting colours, textures, rhythms, perspectives and narratives, interacting within the picture plane. Each painting leads to the next and extends out into infinity.”

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