Sheher Prakriti Devi Ishara
Sheher, Prakriti, Devi at Ishara Art Foundation
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Until 1 June 2024, Ishara Art Foundation is hosting Sheher, Prakriti, Devi, a group exhibition that explores the relationship between cities, the natural environment, and the sacred. Curated by Delhi-based artist and photographer Gauri Gill, it features collectives and artists (including the curator herself) who work across various contexts of urban, rural, domestic, communitarian, public, and non-material spaces. The participants are CHARU, Chiara Camoni, Gauri Gill, Ladhki Devi, Mariam Suhail, Meera Mukherjee, Mrinalini Mukherjee, Rashmi Kaleka, Shefalee Jain, Sukanya Ghosh, Vinnie Gill, and Yoshiko Crow. 

Sheher, Prakriti, Devi (installation view). Ishara Art Foundation, Dubai, 2024. Courtesy of the gallery.

Sheher, Prakriti, and Devi are the Hindustani terms for city, nature, and deity, respectively. The show takes roots in Gill’s Rememory series of photographs (2003 – ongoing) that document urban and semi-urban spaces in India. Gill considers cities to be spaces of habitation shaped by many life-worlds. Through their exhibited works, the participating artists invite visitors to regard ecology as an overlap of cultural, natural, and spiritual domains.

“Through this […] exhibition, I wish to acknowledge those who have found ways to […] persist in their practice, often sharing their work only within their families and local communities […],” Gill said, speaking about the show. “We hope to consider the dualistic worlds of the depleted and regenerative, man-made and natural, colonial and Indigenous, young and old, English and non-English, mundane and magical, absent and present.”

Sheher, Prakriti, Devi (installation view). Ishara Art Foundation, Dubai, 2024. Courtesy of the gallery.

About the participants

CHARU, the Delhi Craft Council’s Centre in Chamba (the Himachal Pradesh state, India), presents Chamba Rumal, an art form from this state. Comprising embroidered handkerchiefs (rumals), the art was inspired by the Pahari school of miniature painting. The rumals displayed in the show are the result of a collaboration between miniature artists and embroiderers at CHARU and designer Swati Kalsi.

Chiara Camoni (b. 1974) is an artist based in Fabbiano (the Apuan Alps, Versilia, Italy) whose practice encompasses drawing, print-making, video, and sculpture. She often creates her art pieces with her friends and relatives, who are members of a studio she calls Centri di Sperimentazione. Together with other artists, Camoni founded the MAGra (Contemporary Art Museum of Granara) and the Vladivostok group. 

Ladhki Devi (b. 1955), who resides in Sakhre (Maharashtra, India), practises Warli, an Indian tribal art she observed while growing up around her mother and grandmother. She is also the mother and first teacher of Rajesh Chaitya Vangad, an acclaimed Warli practitioner. Devi’s drawings made of rice flour paste on earth depict goddesses, gods, and all life forms.

Mariam Suhail (b. 1979, Rawalpindi, Pakistan) lives and works in Bangalore (India). Her work, which includes sculpture, video, digital images, books, text and drawing, is rooted in the incidental minutiae of everyday conversations, media, and culture. Investigating the complexities of language, Suhail dissects and re-presents what lies in the spaces between images, words, sounds, and material.  

Meera Mukherjee‘s (b. 1923, Calcutta – 1998) practice drew from the ordinary lives of fishermen, weavers, and darners. Apart from being subjects for her work, they also were her collaborators sometimes. The artist developed her technique of making wax sculptures after studying metal-casting techniques employed by different craftsmen across India.

Meera Mukherjee, Wave. Bronze. 33 x 20.32 x 22.8 cm. Сourtesy of Dadiba Pundole.
From the Pundole Family Collection.

Sculptor Mrinalini Mukherjee (b. 1949, Mumbai, India – 2015) used fibre, ceramic, and bronze to produce her works. Interested in nature, her knowledge of Indian sculpture, folk art, modern design, local crafts and textiles informed her art. 

Rashmi Kaleka (b. 1957, Nairobi, Kenya) is an artist and an urban farmer residing in New Delhi (India). Her practice draws from her observations and understanding of nature through sounds, visuals, and patterns of habitation and growth across various species. 

Rashmi Kaleka, Deemak #6 (2023). Watercolour and graphite on hot pressed archival 300gsm paper.
31 cm x 41 cm. Сourtesy of the artist.

Shefalee Jain (b. 1979) is a Delhi-based artist, illustrator, and educator. She studies the processes of othering and pathologization of bodies and interrogates the construction and reiteration of the “normal body” within different contexts (modern medicine, advertisement, education, and language). Jain examines how this has determined our ways of perceiving disability and disease.

Sukanya Ghosh (b. 1973) divides her time between Delhi and Calcutta (India). She employs painting, animation, photography, and moving images to explore urban life, pop culture, and collective memory, reflecting the dynamic transformation of cities and the life within them. 

Sukanya Ghosh, Lokkho Lokkho (2023). Digital collage with mixed media on paper.
55.8 x 76.2 cm. Сourtesy of the artist.

Vinnie Gill (b. 1946, Jhansi, India) lives in Delhi. Fascinated with nature since childhood, she creates diaries that comprise drawings of trees, flowers, birds and animals, mountains, rivers, old tombs, and spiritual iconography. The mediums Gill uses or has used in her practice include rice and handmade paper, pastels, Chinese pigment paints, Rotring pens, pencils, watercolours, acrylics, and oil paints.

Vinnie Gill, Lotus Pond in Ranthambore (2020). Pastels and watercolour on rough paper.
33 x 39.8 cm (framed). Сourtesy of the artist.

Emily Avery Yoshiko Crow (born in Boulder, Colorado, USA) employs watercolours, natural sculpture, textiles, animation, and film production design. Brought up by her parents following the Shambhala tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, she is inspired by religious iconography and explores the intersection of humans, nature, spirituality, and the unseen world.y

About the curator

In her practice, Gauri Gill (b. 1970, Chandigarh, India), who works in both black and white and colour, addresses the Indian identity markers of caste, class and community as determinants of mobility and social behaviour. Among her projects is, for example, Notes from the Desert (1999 – ongoing). She created this extensive photo archive of rural India, engaging with marginalised communities in Rajasthan. Another two projects of hers are The Americans (2000 – 2007) and What Remains (2007 – 2011), in which the artist has explored human displacement and the migrant experience among South Asians in North America and Afghanistan. In 2013, Gill launched the Fields of Sight project in collaboration with artist Rajesh Chaitya Vangad. The series combines the contemporary language of photography with the ancient one of Warli, creating new narratives.

Gauri Gill, Kolkata 2009 (a), from the series Rememory (2003 – ongoing).
Archival pigment print, 154.5 x 104 cm. Сourtesy of the artist.

To get more information about Sheher, Prakriti, Devi, please visit the show’s official web page.

You may also be interested in attending Immortal Mirror by Aref Montazeri.