We have grown up watching our mothers walk around the house, completing hundred chores a day, wearing the beautiful six yards that is a saree. As uncomfortable as it might seem to an observer who hasn’t worn one, the fact is, most Indian women have been surmounting obstacles and conquering the world in that piece of clothing.
A brilliant young artist has amalgamated this thought, his love for mermaids and his talent of paper cutting to produce some stupendous pieces of art.
Ahmedabad-based Parth Kothekar has the finesse of a sculptor and the heart of a dreamer that shines through his ‘Indian Mermaids’ series.
Since childhood, I have seen my mother in sarees and wondered how such a complex piece of clothing is nothing but a single, long drape. The way Indian women carry a saree is laudable too; it is as long as 8 metres and as wide as 1.2 metres and yet it falls effortlessly around a woman’s body. The intricacies and the way Indian women handle it inspired me to create this series – because only the mermaid knows the discomfort that her ornate tail brings.
The animation school dropout's heart was always set on 2D art instead of 3D.
Well acclaimed for his works across countries like New Zealand, Canada and Italy, Kothekar has also created posters for movies like Angry Indian Goddesses.
How he came upon paper cutting, an ancient art from China, is interesting –
One day, while making graffiti, I imagined stencils in their reverse forms. I followed the idea and was fascinated by my own work. It started as a hobby but after six months, I had enough artworks to have an exhibition at Kanoria Center of Arts in Ahmedabad. It was very well received.
Women and everyday life inspire the young artist, whose pieces portray women doing mundane jobs in glorious saree prints, expressing a hundred emotions all at once.
Kothekar has recently opened his studio, ‘PaperCut’ in Ahmedabad where he works and sells his art, the latest ones being Game of Thrones inspired.
But even he doesn’t know how any of his pieces will turn out in the end.
I sketch on a white paper (120 gsm), cut out the artwork with a surgical knife and then paint it black. I have an image in mind but to be honest, I don’t know what the final outcome will be. It leaves me jaw-dropped at times and there are no words to describe my satisfaction. It makes me want to create more and more.
(Runa Mukherjee Parikh is an independent journalist with several national and international media houses like The Wire, Bust and The Swaddle. She previously reported for the Times of India. She is the author of the book 'Your Truth, My Truth (https://www.amazon.in/dp/B076NXZFX8)'. You can follow her at @tweetruna.)