Photo Courtesy of Paul Eekhoff / ROM
March 25-May 13, 2023
Opening Reception: Saturday, March 25 from 2:00-4:00pm
The works included in Swapnaa Tamhane’s solo exhibition propose to consider the medium of drawing as one that can be about an accumulation, as a series of marks made by many over time. The title DROP CLOTH refers to heavier industrially produced cotton that is pinned to the long print beds of Ajrakh block printers working in the desert region of Kutch, Gujarat. These drop cloths or achadiya absorb the residues and excessive resist that seeps through during the block printing process, and are a record of the action and sound of wood blocks as they repeatedly stamp cloth for commercial production. The achadiya is the material that is never meant to be seen, celebrated, or considered as something of value, what Tamhane likens to a diasporic experience. When dyed in indigo, residual marks of Ajrakh and Tamhane’s motifs are revealed and create a self-generating composition of a layering of marks, traces, and ghost prints made by several hands working over these surfaces. In response to the revealed prints and residues, Tamhane has applied mirrors on the achadiya almost drawing with them and creating a surface that creates reflection and carries light. The foundation of her framing about mark-making, drawing, and layering connects to the poet/saint Kabir, as a metaphor, in how his poetry and songs became a community of authors over centuries. Kabir, was a cotton weaver from the 15th Century, and his words travelled with pilgrimage and trade routes in what is now India. His poetry became multi-layered and interwoven with several languages and dialects. Eventually, the oral began to merge with the written, and form, meaning, repetition, and improvisation began to blur. Kabir becomes a site or index for Tamhane to think about drawing as a palimpsest or a community/collective. Alongside the achadiya are two drawings that are scenes from the homes and altars of weavers, as well as a recycled plastic weaving made from waste garbage bags and biscuit wrappers.
Swapnaa Tamhane is an artist, writer, and curator. Her visual practice is dedicated to drawing, making handmade paper, and working with the material histories of cotton and jute. She has an MFA in Fibres & Material Practices, Concordia University, where she is currently an Artist-in-Residence. She has been a Research Fellow with the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute (2009), and an International Museum Fellow with the Kulturstiftung des Bundes (2013-2014). In 2019, she was the Ontario juror for the Sobey Art Award, and is currently on the board of SAVAC. She has exhibited her work at articule, Montreal; A Space Gallery, Toronto; Museum der Moderne, Salzburg; Serendipity Arts Festival, Panjim; and Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto; with work currently on view at the Victoria & Albert Museum, Dundee, Scotland, and The Sculpture Park at Madhavendra Palace, Jaipur. Her artwork and research has been supported by SSHRC, Canada Council for the Arts, and Ontario Arts Council.