Smruthi Gargi Eswar’s ‘Devi is within the Element’ at Hyderabad’s Shrishti Artwork Gallery is a recent portrayal of goddesses


Devi is in The Element, a digital artwork sequence by Smruthi Gargi Eswar, commemorates 20 years of Hyderabad’s Shrishti Artwork Gallery

Devi is in The Element, a digital artwork sequence by Smruthi Gargi Eswar, commemorates 20 years of Hyderabad’s Shrishti Artwork Gallery

An exhibition showcasing Smruthi Gargi Eswar’s artworks to commemorate 20 years of Hyderabad’s Shrishti Artwork Gallery is titled Devi is in The Element. The title couldn’t have been extra apt; the digital artworks have the potential to make guests take a contemporary have a look at the way in which a goddess or Devi is commonly portrayed. 

The Bengaluru-based artist explains how ladies are socially conditioned and are available beneath stress to be “Devi-like”, however what makes the goddesses in her artwork relatable is a extra fluid illustration, much like regular ladies. This fluid depiction doesn’t dilute the thought of a goddess; as an alternative, it brings to the fore a lesser-explored aspect. 

As an alternative of a picture of goddess Saraswathy seated together with her veena and blessing her devotees, as seen on calendars and framed photos in puja rooms, we see her in a casual mode, as if she is having fun with a while off within the forest.

Smruthi was all the time accustomed to mythological tales. She had the essential thought of tales related to Durga, Saraswathi and Lakshmi and their uncooked power and power. Having grown up in South India, she says, “Dravidian Hindu mythology is totally different from the pan-Indian strategy we see right this moment. Since part of my household is from rural India, I used to be additionally uncovered to the idea of village goddesses. After I started a sequence on goddesses almost a decade in the past, I wished to be higher knowledgeable and browse up in regards to the goddesses. I realised that tales of gods and goddesses have been retold many occasions and there are totally different variations to every story. That made it much more fascinating.”

Akka Mahadevi by Smruti Gargi Eswar

Akka Mahadevi by Smruti Gargi Eswar
| Photograph Credit score: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

The agricultural dieties

One of many artworks titled Gramadevi is a illustration of village goddesses. There are a number of names given to those goddesses in villages throughout India. The agricultural deities are worshipped in a different way by totally different communities. Smruthi tries to discover a commonality among the many totally different variations, taking just a few attribute traits. The native deity is commonly recognized by the picture of the pinnacle simply exterior the village, beneath a tree. Legends have it that feasts are cooked to appease her wrath after the village and the close by areas bear the brunt of forest fires. “There was a time when these deities have been tended to by ladies of the world and never by clergymen,” says Smruthi.

Every of her artworks — depicting Gauri, Prakriti, Matangi, amongst others — narrate a narrative. Parvati overlaying her face with a lotus harks again to the story of the Lingam and the Yoni. Elsewhere we find out about Tara, the goddess for travellers, and Akka Mahadevi, the 12th-century mystic who was dedicated to Lord Shiva. The artist’s portrayal of Ganga and Arthanarishwari are additionally examples of an exploration of multiplicity. 

A few of these artworks are part of Smruthi’s persevering with sequence Sister Misfortune that started a decade in the past when she began exploring and depicting goddesses who should not revered or dismissed as ‘alakshmi’, the other of Lakshmi.

Smruthi studied effective arts on the Baroda School of Effective Arts and Chitrakala Parishad. Her curiosity in artwork, although, emerged when she was a scholar at The Valley Faculty, KFI. She then labored as a graphic artist for just a few years earlier than returning to effective arts.

The artwork of letting go

She most well-liked the digital artwork kind for her sequence on goddesses. The colourful colors and a recent calendar temper was accentuated by going digital. She provides, “I discovered it elitist {that a} portray will probably be owned by one individual. Digital artwork is democratisation of that course of.” 

Smruthi Gargi Eswar

Smruthi Gargi Eswar
| Photograph Credit score: Particular Association

Making certain that the worth of her artwork doesn’t get diluted, she makes restricted version copies. “I make 10 copies after which delete the supply file,” she says, referring to how she took a cue from early photographers and lithographers who destroyed the negatives and originals in order that the imagery isn’t replicated again and again.

Destroying the unique file was hurtful initially, she admits and provides that with time, she discovered it cathartic to let go. As soon as the high-resolution supply file is destroyed, she is simply left with just a few low decision photos that she makes use of for tarot playing cards.

(Devi is within the Element is on view at Shrishti Artwork Gallery, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad, until April 12)

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