“City life yields choices that change us, weaving an Urban Veil that thickens; we no longer see ourselves as part of the natural world.”
The typescript imprinted on a wall of The Private Museum was attributed as a quote to Nandita Mukand, one of two artists behind the museum’s latest exhibition, ‘From Lost Roots to Urban Meadows’.
The other mind behind the exhibition – Madhvi Subrahamanian – is similarly an artist that deliberates the interconnectedness of the natural and urban environments through sculptures and installations. It is no coincidence that both artisans in the spotlight are women – the joint exhibition is done as a part of The Private Museum’s Women Artists series, in celebration of International Women’s Day this year. This is not the first time The Private Museum has commemorated the works of female artists on the significant date.
The two artists share a common thread in exploring the insertion of nature into the urban world, but harbour differing approaches in their thoughts and art. Mukand’s works are telling of her seemingly paradoxical interests in the erudite and the abstruse, drawing upon the concepts of time, being, and neuroplasticity. Subrahmanian, on the other hand, contemplates the fluid interconnectedness of nature and urban culture, crafting sensory experiences that make use of material structures, spatial organisation, and casted shadows to create lasting impressions.
An admixture of cloth, paper, plaster, and acrylic paint, Mukand’s Urban Veil 1 appears as a sparse array of multicoloured verdure, an abstract possibly reminiscent of the human mind’s ability to mingle in, out of, and with nature. It is interesting to note that the colours chosen for this piece are redolent of the same colours found in nature – vibrant hues of yellow, green and orange, dashed with incidental daubs of purple and blue.
Conversely, Subrahmanian’s Floor Plan incorporates the more traditional earthly shades of black and brown, perhaps to accede that its shell-like structure exists as a framework of what’s to come. While the individual aspects are fundamentally similar in their general square-like appearances, their patterns differ, seemingly suggestive of the random, organised chaos that appears in both nature and modern life.
One may notice the golden stroke dividing the individual pieces, almost akin to a river coursing down a network of houses. The stroke is provisioned through a Japanese technique known as kintsugi (golden joinery in English) which uses lacquer mixed with powdered gold to repair cracks in items. The art form recognises that any imperfections such as gaps and fractures are not meant to be hidden – but instead to be displayed as part of an object’s history. Subrahmanian notes in her opening reception speech that permission was granted to her by The Private Museum to directly apply the lacquer onto the museum’s floors – which will likely remain past the exhibition in strangely satisfying (and meta) admittance of the lingering effects of art.
Nandita Mukand’s Empty Vessels 1 appears as a beetling assembly of an almost uncountable number of pinecones and cypress seeds clumped into multiple clusters, hanging from the ceiling and resting on the floor of the museum. The thumping display’s peculiar name is easily understood upon closer inspection – while large in collective size, the individual seeds comprising the piece can be easily identified; and are all open and hollow.
The exhibition explores the crisscross relationship between both the natural and urban environments in an evocative manner through the works of the two artists. The juxtaposition of the two artistic styles – both similar and different at the same time – is aptly indicative of shared relationship between the two worlds.
From Lost Roots to Urban Meadows
Date: Friday, 22 March 2019 to Sunday, 5 May 2019
Venue: The Private Museum, 51 Waterloo Street, #02-06, Singapore 187969
Admission is free. For more information, visit http://theprivatemuseum.org/index.php/exhibition/from-lost-roots-to-urban-meadows/
Photos by Goh Jing Wen of the DANAMIC team