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Long before the age of globalisation and the internet, India was an axial point for international trade through which the East-West commerce in aromatics, spices, textiles, and other luxuries passed. This position allowed for not just the creation of wealthy economies and trade networks but also for active exchanges of ideologies, artistic traditions, traditional knowledge systems and practices.

‘India Global’ represents an India, especially post Independence, where new forms, materials, ideas and ways of being coalesce, the old and new coexisting side by side, sparring with one another and more often than not, erupting into fantastic hybrids, at once global and local.

In this dialogue, cities become an important stage where a vast human drama constantly unfolds, constantly in a state of flux, adapting to innumerable forces influencing its act.  ‘India Global’ is conceptualised as a window that opens for the visitor to access this humanscape within the urban landscape.





Jonnalagadda Niranjan, the fourth generation of a family of kalamkari (work of the pen) artists in Srikalahasti, traces his family's association with the craft to the 15th century when artists from the Coromandel Coast produced intricately hand-painted chintz textiles for the European market. The motifs, largely floral arabesques, were Indo-Persian in inspiration but were adapted to European tastes. The term kalamkari refers to the South Indian tradition of painting on cloth using natural dyes. In the late 19th century, artists from Machalipatnam, then the dominant kalamkari centre, migrated to the Srikalahasti and settled on the banks of the River Swarnamukhi. Here they received commissions for painted screens, toranas (door hangings) and tumbis (pennants) from the many local temples. The patronage of the temples led kalamkari to evolve in Srikalahasti as a primarily figurative and narrative tradition. "The project for the Mumbai Airport is unique," says Niranjan. Here, he draws an enormous drawing of the 'Tree of Life', spanning 20 square feet. Instead of cloth, the traditional base for kalamkari, Niranjan has drawn on a polythene-coated paper in black ink, using a pen rather than the stylus. The drawing was scanned and transferred onto glass. The lines, including the shading, were etched onto the glass. The glass sheet mounted onto a wall is visible from both sides. An image that pervades the visual language of many cultures and media across the centuries, the Tree of Life motif is known as the kalpavriksha in the Indian subcontinent. Whether carved in stone and wood, painted on cloth, cut into paper stencils, wrought in metal, embroidered on wool, the mythical tree is depicted bearing different blooms and creatures on each of its branches, as a parable of nature's innate diversity encapsulated within a single living organism.  The Tree of Life is also imagined as the centre of the earth, its point of beginning, and is represented as a colossal tree that supports the skies while sending its roots out into the underground in search of nourishment. In the Indian context, the tree of life is also associated with eternity - the embodiment of this is the ashwatha (peepal) tree, thought to represent the entire cosmos. In this work, fantastic birds nestle amid the luxuriant leaves and flowers of the 'Tree of Life'.  At the base of the composition, is a pool filled with lotuses and fish, representing the life bestowed by rivers and subterranean reservoirs. Two magnificent peacock-like birds stand at the base of the tree, their plumage resplendent. Each bough of the tree is weighed down by flowers in bloom, buds promising potential, and all manner of fruits. Birds and small forest creatures run on the branches or nest amid the foliage, coexisting in peace and sharing limited resources.



Dedicated to the element earth, the installation 'Gobar Shakti' consists of a 'fortress' that resembles the mud architecture of village homes, anointed with auspicious motifs in white rice paste. Against this backdrop are placed the 'Gobar Shakti' sculptures depicting animals and activities from the daily life in the village - two women pounding grain, a woman feeding her child, another working a sewing machine, and yet another a charkha or spinning wheel, a man herding cattle, a snake, a bull.  Crafted from gobar (cow dung) and other inexpensive locally available materials, the sculptures speak of the nature of self-employment, and of basic needs, desires, and freedoms negotiated through the act of creation. Dubbed 'Gobar Shakti', literally, the power of cow dung, the collection of artworks are both a part of this process, made by women and men from rural India who have made their homes in urban slums of Kurukshetra, in search of a better life. Curator Rajeev Sethi argues that, "When artisans turn their skills to expressing their own narratives, they invent transitional forms not necessarily part of traditional repertoires. Each handcrafted object has a story to tell. It symbolizes the aspirations of the craftsperson, but rarely speaks of the harsh realities that surround their creation." "Could our crafts be re-positioned as crucial drivers in the local and global marketplace-empowering our people with a sense of identity and creativity? In an increasingly homogenized world in which products, their colours and forms look similar across the world, diverse handcrafted technologies and local methods of storytelling are the essential resource banks we have. We, as designers, are richer in our work if we inform it with these skills that offer great creative potential. And in turn, these craftspeople are richer through vital dialogues and inventive thinking." It is this belief that underwrites the installation. Sethi says, "Communities that continue to live close to earth/land, make art that most often reflects the rhythms and tenacious beauty of their natural world. These art expressions often serve the purpose of a ritual. An affirmation of their roots that ramify the mythical, cosmic aspects of everyday life. 'Secular' art or 'fine' art or art for its own sake - are categories without place across the thresholds of the makers of these sculptures. Instead they offer a hard, entirely subjective look at their hardships and limited resources. It represents the social inequities that surround them, devoid of sentimentality and rancour, celebrating the everyday joys offered by life."



When curator Rajeev Sethi envisaged his installations based on the panchmahabhuta, he saw it as a multidisciplinary interpretation. He wanted to create the sound of jaltarang by touching or altering the flow of water. Film director Shekar Kapur responded to Sethi's idea that the senses are interdependent and can become seamless with each other. Kapur brought in a group of sound engineers and Sethi designed the scenography of the water installations based around elegant, slender antique water spouts. Working with B.R. Pandit, a renowned ceramicist, huge columns were devised to hold the spouts. The ceramic artist Priya Sundaravalli Sudarshan from Pondicherry, created jewel-like coral bed in ceramic shells as if scattered on a beach of white sand below a glass floor. The water falls and splashes on the imaginative cityscapes by the Delhi based ceramic artist, Vipul Kumar, made in a scale and size he had never attempted before.  "The offering of Water is fundamental to the installation. As people walk through the airport in a rush, stressed, let them be reminded of this great offering, let them be touched by it, moved by it, and feel it as a gift of life, of laughter, of music.



The entire installation is placed under a glass on which people can walk, as though magically walking on water so clear that you could peer right through to the bed of the ocean and see these wondrous life forms, shells etc nestled in the glistening white sand. "My inspirations are the painter Agnes Martin and the British potter Dame Lucie Rie. Both these women artists make works that carry a lot of silence. While I strive for the same sort of quiet but powerful presence, my works seem to have tribal voices," says Sudarshan explaining the connection she feels to the culture of the Australian aborigine. "When I am working, my head is filled with lyricism, thoughts of a connection to the universe and to the past, very much like the aborigine concept of the dreamtime. Maybe that is why aborigine visual language, its topography like imagery and the use of pointillism or dots also appear in my work," says the artist. As with much of her work, all the pieces Sudarshan made for this installation were very thin and textured stoneware, fired at over 1250 degrees Celsius in a wood fired kiln and patterned with glazes, recycled glass and oxides over the stoneware to give it lustre and finish, as well as paper-thin clay shards as mosaic inlay. Resembling seashells, sea anemones, and coral, Sudarshan associates them with the first time she swam in the ocean on a moonlit night. "There was this phosphorus glow everywhere, bioluminescence ... it just made me remember the biodiversity of the ocean and how privileged we are to be part of it ... Instead of regular sand, I decided to use the white powder used for kolam, the auspicious patterns drawn in front of homes in South India.



Vipul Kumar, a Delhi-based sculptor and ceramist who creates his works with a variety of material from sandstone and marble to stoneware and porcelain, has created a 10 feet long 2.5 feet wide trough that resembles a city. Working in stoneware, the structure is a high relief of a network of grids and circles arranged in what could roughly be called an S shape that lyrically curves across ceramic slabs. The glazes that Kumar used is a mixture of blues to match the work that Brahmdeo Ram Pandit and his son Abhay Pandit have created and the earth colours that he usually works in, which are mostly browns and greens.  "I over-glazed the whole structure to give it a high lustre," says Vipul Kumar. The trough is submerged under water like a city that has outgrown its floodplain and gone under the sea. An outsider to the city of Mumbai, Kumar uses his impression of Mumbai to fashion this work. "For me the city of Mumbai is a city of commerce and business, an important art centre, a city that draws artists to it," says Kumar.  Kumar has endeavoured to capture the buzzing quality and restlessness of the city and densely populated topography. While Delhi is a circular city Mumbai is mostly linear and Kumar has captured that in his piece. Most of his work is themed around mankind who he considers is a bank of energy, consciousness and wisdom.



Bringing together architecture, ceramics, technology, and artefacts, 'Seascape' consists of a wall surface consisting of 24 hollow columns rising to a height of 20 feet. The columns are built of stacked pots rendered in the Pandits' signature style, red copper reduction and turquoise glazes. The moulding, textures, crackles, colouring, and glazing on the pots, speak of the deep currents and rolling waves of the Arabian Sea, the sea foam on the beaches of Mumbai, the patterned erosion of the sand visible with each successive wave that breaks, or the colours of the sea during sunset. Embedded within this blue glazed ceramic wall are stone spouts sourced from various temples. Water pipes concealed within the hollow columns let the water to flow out from these antique spouts. "I am honoured to be asked to create a work that meditates on water. After all, it plays such an important role in Hindu philosophy. Water is the source of life, visitors are greeted with a glass of water, the last rites include an offering of water to the dying. How does one translate that into an installation?" asks B.R. Pandit.  Another installation, dedicated to the theme water by Pandit is a 7-foot by 7-foot square ceramic block, that acts as a mount to a 5.5-foot circular disk. 1100 ceramic Shiva Lingas rise from this disc.  An iconographic representation of the Hindu deity Shiva, the linga (phallus) is also interpreted as a pillar of fire from which Lord Shiva emerges. The sculpture is mounted on the ceiling as though defying gravity. Stalactite-like, water drips from the lingas onto a mirror image placed beneath. In the second piece, the shiva lingas are contained within yonis (vagina), symbolising the Great Goddess. The presence of the linga and the yoni echoes the ancient theme of Shiva-Shakti, the union and indivisible two-in-oneness of male and female energies. The relief in ceramic strips acts as a backdrop for the entire water installation designed by Abhay Pandit. Referencing the parched earth of a dry river bed or of a pond barren during the scorching summer or droughts the strips show fine cracks as if the soft clay is left out to dry in the sun.  In the glazing Abhay creates an occasional flush of green algae, a tenuous suggestion of renewal and regeneration, or a wash of light blue and green resembling the quenched earth after the first rains. The maze of blue and reddish pipes will culminate in traditional pranali (water systems), that are designed to give the water jets different tonal qualities, that emulate a jal tarang (musical instrument), when touched.  The styles of both the Pandits, is showcased beautifully in this extensive work, incorporating B R Pandit's wheel-thrown forms and nuanced glazing, as well as Abhay Pandit's almost narrative textural slabs.  "The installation has an interactive aspect to it and that is really exciting for us," said Abhay Pandit.



In an interdisciplinary collaboration between mixed media artist Yogesh Rawal and glass maestro Kayur Patel, and the curator of the artwork program, Rajeev Sethi, create a tribute to the elements fire and water. The 30 foot paper collage wall created by Rawal is brilliantly coloured like the leaping flames of a fire. It acts as a backdrop to the 92 odd heritage bronze lamps, representing the element of fire as light,  from South India. These lamps are placed in 'Frozen Ice', 27 enormous 'ice cubes' crafted in resin and glass by Kayur Patel. "Thematically, the work is quite simple.” Kayur says. “Positioned in the same space, fire and ice, embody the energy of complementary opposites, of yin and yang. My work strives to convey a sense of timelessness, to represent a moment frozen in time. To my mind, the work is all about paradoxes. The lamps, metaphors of heat and light, are captured by ice and the 'frozen ice' miraculously remains solid despite their presence.” Patel highlights the innovations he had to introduce in order to achieve the desired effect of an ice cube. He says,  "No one has ever cast resin and glass together, that too in such huge sizes. I needed to devise engineering systems to create the moulds, to lift them, and later, to cast the sheets and remove them from the moulds as well," says Patel. Small cranes were used to lift the glass moulds. Rawal's 'mural' is made of 85 panels. The paper collage in 'wall of fire' is made up of fire resistant, translucent paper sourced the raw materials from Padamji paper mills in Pune. A medium he is well versed in having used it since 1974. He says, “the translucency of this kind of paper created tonal gradations, resembling the effect of a flame. I also selected the colors with care covering the entire spectrum of the flame's colors, from the bright reds that are ironically the coolest section of the flame, to the progressively hotter oranges, yellows and whites. I have also included some blue tones seen near the base of candles.”



"It was while thinking about how to interpret the element air, that I decided on the Hawa Mahal or the 'Palace of Winds' in Jaipur as an inspiration," says Rajeev Sethi, creator of 'Touché'.  As per Indian mythology, "Air, the second element, born of the agitation created in the vast stillness of space by primordial sound, is expressed as the wind (pavan) and the sense of touch (sparsh)," Sethi elaborates. "Visiting the Hawa Mahal many years ago, I was fascinated by how the multiple windows allowed for a joyous indulgence in the simple sensual pleasure in the wafting breeze in the arid climate of Rajasthan” Built in 1799, Hawa Mahal's front facade with approximate 953 windows has intricately carved sandstone jaalis or latticework screens. The original purpose of the lattice was to allow the ladies of the royal court to observe everyday life in the street below without being seen keeping in with the custom of 'purdah'. However, it also functioned as a very effective filter for the hot desert wind, cooling  it to a gentle breeze as it passes through the perforated screens. Hawa Mahal thus not only aptly references the air element, it also alludes to the buffer zones between the inside and the outside, the public and private world. “A suitable metaphor for 21st century India, renegotiating, as did our ancestors, our identities and cultures," mused Sethi. A pagdi, wrapped around the wearer's head,  protects him from the harsh sunlight and heat and also acts as an indicator of status, intellect and social standing. It also evokes  the textile traditions of India., 'Touche', while being suitably sculptural in its presentation, almost like a crown, shaped like an enormous turban, retains the protruding jharokhas and jaalis of its architectural inspiration, albeit for its symbolism rather than its functionality.  The entire process was executed by a team of artists who trained together at the Chandigarh College of Art. The installation was first sculpted in true scale in clay. It was then used for a Plaster of Paris mould from which a fibreglass version was cast. To enhance the tactile quality of the installation, it was pasted over with layers of handmade paper, giving the installation an earthy palette of subtle browns and off-whites.



The jaali (perforated screen), transforms the tangible designs on the facade into finely patterned shadows allowing beams of natural light to form the bridge between heaven and earth, between the 'inside' and the 'outside'. “As such, it seemed an apt leitmotif for the element air," said Rajeev Sethi, explaining the concept behind this installation. Introduced to the Indian subcontinent by Islamic settlers, the jaalis became a part of India's syncretic culture and secular architecture featuring in mosques, mausoleums, temples, forts, palaces and humble dwellings. Patterned stone and wood lattices work window openings, resulting in small apertures not only prevented the direct sun's rays, heat and glare associated with it but rather allowed light in such a way that internal spaces were illumined with half-light into the rooms. Additional advantage was the compressed air passing through these small apertures, increased in velocity and transformed into cool breeze passing through these screens in the hot summer months of Rajasthan.  One more advantage of the jaalis was that from within the rooms, everything outside is visible but the outsider is not able to see inside. Due to this, the jaali was well suited to the notions of privacy, especially in those days when women of the zenana or harem were not allowed to be seen in public spaces.   Responding to the local craftsmanship and culture, the jaali was imbued with tropical flavour, the intricate calligraphy and geometric tessellations of its Islamic origins filling out with the luxuriant creepers, floral and figural designs of its new homeland.  "For the Mumbai International Airport, I also decided to reinterpret the jaali as a metaphor of the plurality of the Indian subcontinent," said Sethi. "To this end, I needed to bring together a variety of jaalis - distinct in material, technique and design in a single composite installation."  Contrary to the symmetry seen in Mughal and Rajput architecture, the individual screens have been arranged in a manner that is rather asymmetrical. The unpredictable irregularity of the composition was intended to evoke the nature of the metropolis that houses the installation.  Says Sethi,  "The installation is inspired by the modernist artist Piet Mondrian's seminal painting, 'Broadway Boogie-Woogie' which abstracted the city of New York of the 1940s as a grid, pulsing with colour, its lines suggesting the movement of traffic and blinking electric lights of the city and the rhythms of jazz music." These jaalis are sourced from old mansions around the country that had been demolished. These were carved from wood, cast in metal, cut from aluminum sheets, wrought in patinated iron or carved from stone. Some of them were commissioned from a Jaipur based company that produces home accessories, decorative products, furniture, textiles, and carpets. This 'collage' of jaalis draws on the vast vocabulary of designs found in Islamic, Hindu and Jain architecture in India as well as in other regions such as Turkey, Spain, and the Middle East.



One of South Asia's leading designers, Rajeev Sethi is noted internationally for his contribution to preserving and celebrating the subcontinent's rich cultural heritage. For more than 35 years, Sethi has brought contemporary relevance to the traditional skills of vulnerable artisanal communities and creative professionals through his work in design and architecture, performances and festivals, exhibitions and publication, policy and advocacy. These interdisciplinary initiatives have innovatively positioned time-honoured legacy industries in an era of industrial mass production and globalization. Mr. Sethi's formative years were spent in Paris working with Pierre Cardin, and he was mentored by designers like Ray and Charles Eames and eminent Gandhians like Mrs Kamala Devi Chottapadhya and Pupul Jayakar who encouraged him to direct his talents to India. This also underlies his creation of Sarthi (Friends of artists in need), The Asian Heritage Foundation, and 'Jiyo!', a creative & cultural industries brand owned by Indian artists and craftspersons.



Buddhist, Jain and Hindu mythology are replete with tales of celestial maidens whose extraordinary beauty was deployed to seduce gods and men, test their resolution and influence the destiny of mankind. Known as apsaras, they are the handmaidens of the gods, entertaining them with their wondrous musical and dancing abilities. Inhabitants of the skies and the clouds, apsaras are often featured in painted or sculpted form as winged beings poised atop ceilings, arches, niches, doorways, railings and pillars. These are 31 apsaras carved in wood and painted. Each is richly ornamented and dressed in a flowing skirt that curves, petal-like, at the back. Their sashes (uttariya) morph into wings, highlighting their supernatural status. Their bodies are arched, their heads thrown back to rest upon a foliage scroll. The apsaras are shown holding oil lamps, garlands or musical instruments as though to welcome guests, symbolically equating the building they adorn to the abode of the gods. Such figures are widely used as decorative elements on pillars placed along the verandahs and internal courtyards of palatial mansions in Gujarat and Maharashtra.



Aurelio a musician, composer, sound healer and the creative director of SVARAM, a musical research station, is based in Auroville. With the help of his artistic team, he brings a healing touch to all those who arrive: creating a sound environment in the gigantic wind chime installation 'Sound Wings.' 'Sound Wings', can be considered as one of the largest tuned chimes in the world. Despite constant shifting realities in the execution of the work - economics, material availability, adaptation to space etc,  "the inner will and determination to accomplish was greater than all the obstacles, the wings once spread, wanted to fly," says Aurelio. The image of wings appeared as if from the given space itself. "Soaring from the heights, ready to land, arrive there in Mumbai, claiming the luggage, (that's where the passage would lead to) - of a long journey from ancient tradition into a pioneering act of public art." Aurelio adds, explaining the idea behind the title of the installation. "An old European childhood image re-appeared," continues Aurelio. "Going to the clock tower, waiting patiently for it to ring at the given hour." Here, "the 'White Swan - Hamsadhvani! sings." At the outset of each chiming - which is projected for a quarterly hour interval, the scale appears in a clear descending order over more than one octave before the tones mingle into a harmonic, pulsating, subtle vibration. “It can carry your imagination on the 'Wings of Sound’. It will  connect to that golden tradition, the purity of the classical music idiom and its total expression in a matrix of pure proportions. There, one can experience as it may appear, the 'White Swan', with its mysterious sound, Hamsadhvani!" exclaims Aurelio. The persistent, collective effort of many saw the full realisation of this installation.  "The silver shine of the metal alloy, wings spreading, a bird sounding its shining call...the rhythm of work mirroring the proportions of tones ... a total choreography of crafts and tools and hearts, each relating to all. Wings to lift off the ground of our limitations and land in new cities of joy!" Says Aurelio.