Arti Sandhu

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Arti Sandhu is a designer I have been following for a while on her flickr. But seeing this new series of illustrations by her really knocked my socks off. What fun- Madhubani meets contemporary. I love her lines, her humour and the droopy faces in interesting contexts in each of these pieces. Arti teaches design and has lived and worked in India, New Zealand and she is now in America. "Home for me is a complex notion, though on some level it will always be India. I write on the subject of Indian tastes and clothing (fashion), dabble in mix media drawings and take photographs when opportunity strikes."
I really respect Arti's work & asked if we could do an interview & here it is!

Artnlight: As a design practitioner/teacher how much of India has shaped your design sensibilities? Did you have to go away from it to come back to it?
Arti Sandhu: I feel India shapes my visual sensibilities in numerous ways…ways that I only came to realize as I starting making my own mix media work a few years ago..
I feel we (in India) all have a strong (sub conscious) connection to craft, textile and the layering of textures, motifs etc. We also live in multi layered urban environments which have similar constructs of color, texture etc. However honing this or find a way to make it personal to me really only came when I moved away from India as a site of home…and began to return to it (yearly). Perhaps it was some sort of nostalgic migrant hang-over that I suffer/ed from (and many other migrants suffer from) that makes one polarize certain aspects and often even over romanticise the “past”…but this process certainly allowed me to indulge in ideas and concepts that I began to appreciate as an outsider, who had intimate memories of being an insider…if that makes sense.
Being able to “return to India” as indulgent as it seems, also allows me to notice everyday things that I may have missed previously or give extra attention to mundane things that most people take for granted as they see them everyday.

"I was thinking about the notion of leaving home...or being received by dull or unwilling relatives (an experience many migrants would relate to). Also the "fresh off the boat" look - that usually takes time to lose completely"
" The ubiquitous lime (nimbo) and chilli hanging good luck charm gets some action."

"Mahila (a woman) surrounded by Gobar ki pathis (Cow dung cakes). A great source of fuel, rows of cow dung cakes are a common site on boundary walls and fences in Indian villages, small towns and city fringes. “Beauty in Gobar” is a play on how the beautiful and not-so-beautiful coexist in harmony in India’s urban and rural landscape. "
" Ladies always get a seat on Delhi's local buses.... "
Artnlight: We come from a very colourful artistic heritage, thats so different from the western aestheic, which side do you personally gravitate to?
Arti Sandhu: I’m not sure which side I gravitate too. What I do know is that I tend to gravitate towards certain visual characteristics that are not necessarily from any one particular place. I’m intrigued by urban fragments, signage, folk and outsider art, awkward compositions and repetition…to name a few. Miss match as an aesthetic is something I really like too.

Artnlight: Your new series is Madhubani inspired, do tell us more about it- what made you think of it, has it been brewing in your head for a while or did it just strike you one fine moment to do it.
Arti Sandhu: Madhubani has always appealed to me – as on one hand it is extremely simple in its line quality and naïve motifs, but extremely complex through composition, fineness of detail and the use of line and repetition etc. The combination of storytelling and decorative techniques really appeals to me and also the lengths the artist goes to – to tell a story and make it visually appealing.
My new series “Mahila Moments” had been brewing in my head for a long time and I started some early doodles in Summer 08…. thats when I tried my hand at some pen drawings combined with photo collage. The pen work was initially inspired by Madhubani style borders – the use of stripes, simple geometric shapes and their repetition in particular. I also started to experiment with drawing the human figure at some point….and as I was/am also writing about modern Indian fashion….the Mahila Moments drawings started to evolve. But I really got excited this past Dec/Jan as I finally worked out a sort of style of drawing – the figures with the round heads and stocky bodies with equally awkward/pensive expressions. Since then series began and has been super exciting for me to work on as I enjoy the humour that goes with each drawing.

"This piece makes reference to Mahila Mandals (meeting/committee of women), Mandalas and the "I can make it at home for nothing" (with a small aubergine) skit in the BBC series Goodness Gracious me "
"Chaudhvi ka Chand"
I feel my work has to tell some sort of story…and I like to focus on everyday, mundane incidents in my work. In “Red on Sale” the notion of these modern women fighting over luxury fashion was my angle. So as the Mahila series is things get added to mix.
The introduction of the “small aubergine [baingan]” came from a video clip of the BBC comedy Goodness Gracious Me.
"In the “Extra Arms” drawings I was trying to play with modernity and mythology together."- AS
"The round disc drawings were inspired by the shape of ganjifa cards (that I desperately want a set of) and the full circle skirts I saw in a book on Indian textiles. So that’s how the series is growing."-AS
"I hope to make them bigger or smaller or even transfer them onto textile as the months progress! I’m also going to be India for a month in summer…so that will also add new dimension to the drawings I think!!" -AS
"I was looking through some images of Indian graphics when I came across a set of round [ganjifa] kamasutra playing cards. That combined with a recent trip to Gap (and their colorful boxer briefs for men) made me think of such "lunch time interruptions"... I was also thinking of an image I remember seeing years ago in the Andhra Times of Lakshmi Parvathi, wife of NTR (NT Ramarao, the then Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh) taking lunch for him in a tiffin box. It was her daily routine. " Arti Sandhu

Stay tuned, coming up soon is a post full of Arti's brilliant photography.

You Might Also Like


Popular Posts

Like us on Facebook

Flickr Images