Tue 12 Sep 2023 to Sun 8 Oct 2023
Artist: Surbhhi K Modi
Pontone Gallery presents an exclusive exhibition of new pieces by Surbhi Modi, an Indian artist who divides her time between Delhi and London. An international exhibitor and curator, she has a particular interest in promoting the societal benefits of public art. Modi’s practice ranges across sculpture, textiles and installation. On this inaugural occasion the gallery will showcase a group of her tapestries.
Each tapestry features an image of an intricately decorated vase or vases. Traditionally Asian in shape and style, they picture dragons sinuously stretched across their notional porcelain surfaces. A variety of twisting and variegated plant forms are applied, and the resulting multi- coloured collage is laid onto a grid pattern. All this is achieved by the manipulation of textiles, whether woven, embroidered or printed. The artist stitches and weaves her various elements into a relationship with each other, making an implicit reference to a historically and culturally ‘female’ activity and domain of expertise.
Modi’s content is disparate and playful. She deploys subject matter gleaned from her background and upbringing in India and a wider Asian context to make connections and allegories that she herself describes as ‘whimsical’. These point up the fragmentation and strange agglomerations of a post-modern world, which now also exists outside the West, where culture and its apparent meanings slip, slide and elide from one vague uncertainty to another. At the same time her work alludes to more concrete and urgent ecological concerns. Her nods to the religious epics of the Mahabharata and Ramayana and their vernacular tales explicitly advocate a respect for nature.
The tapestries, in their integrations of both humble and luxury materials, imply a process of synthesis and transformation. Modi refers to the artist as an ‘alchemist’ who sees potential value in the mundane and discarded. Her work is a real-world proof of such a purpose.