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Throughout the Indian subcontinent, thresholds are invested with special meaning. They are spaces of transition between the public and the private, the sacred and the secular, connecting   the external world with the realm within. 

‘Silent Sentinels’ is composed of various architectural and sculptural elements traditionally featured in thresholds of homes, step wells and religious architecture. Toranas, arches, pillars mark the entrance, marking  a space of transition, defining the line between entrance and exit. Totems, brackets, deities, guardian figures and angels carved on the façade or placed near the doorway serve as declarations of identity and belonging, as well as symbolically guard the entrance. 

Silent Sentinels is an amalgamation of such architectural and sculptural metaphors encoded into the vocabulary of the Indian threshold, be it a grand entryway into a town, the markers that define the boundaries of a village, the gateways of a sacred building, or the humble doorways of a home.




Having worked extensively within the mural painting tradition in Kerala, Suresh Muthukulam is no stranger to large public artworks – the program at the Mumbai Airport art project comes close in scale to the murals of antiquity. “Faced with a 40 feet high and 200 feet in length wall, punctuated with architectural elements and artefacts …I had to break up the composition into smaller units and finally into individual panels, each carefully numbered and assembled in sequence on site,” says Muthukulam. Drawing on the rich tradition of mural painting in Kerala that adheres to a strict iconography, colour symbolism and visual language, he reinterprets the classical form, while adhering to its aesthetic and philosophy. The ‘mural’ is divided into three registers – the lower section dedicated to figures of welcome, the next by figures that manifest the deities’ power or and the upper register by the ashtadikpalakas, the guardians of the eight cardinal directions, representing harmony in the Universe. Asuras or demons are depicted playing the mizhavu, an indigenous percussion instrument. Other figures hold the nadaswaram (a wind instrument) and the idakku (small drums)as though to greet visitors with music and awaken the gods. A bronze lamp with three wicks, usually lit at temples, also forms part of this tableau of welcome.   Encoded into the panel are various elements derived from Kerala’s popular culture – the anachamayam or elephant decorations, aalavattam or peacock feather fan ceremonially placed behind the idol of the deity, the shanka or conch blown to announce the wakening hour, and the ratha or carriage which bears the deity during the annual festive processions. As in the classical Kerala mural, Muthukulam has not used pencils or pens to draw the forms. The first outline is drawn with a brush in light yellow. Details are then added layer by layer, the forms filled in, and the contours softened by shading. There is no realistic perspective with a single vanishing point. Instead, the key characters dominate the composition while the ancillary figures are depicted in a much smaller scale and often, in the hasya rasa or comical attitude, lending a sense of humour to the composition. The background is treated to create a diffused atmosphere, deliberately patinised to suggest antiquity and timelessness. Certain figures have been imbued with tremendous movement, others emanate stillness. Some figures have been left unfinished, others painted over, as though the mural were revealing layer after layer of its history.



In our India culture, Wrestling (Kushti) is itself an exercise. It is for to keep our body fin and fine. In earlier times, where Kushti used to be played and performed that place was known as "Akhada". In today's time, its known as "GYM". We believe that a healthy person can crete healthy thoughts & healthy thoughts makes our society healthy. When society is healthy, then it becomes healthy nation. Thats why we titled this painting "The Pillars of Strength". We are forgetting our culture, which is vanished from so many years.



The Aircraft window in the center of the art work reflects the viewer inducing him/her to experience the nation of flying or being in an aircraft. Palaka takes passengers into an illusionistic space mimicking a flying aircraft with a view of infinite sky, and sound which are usually not heard inside the flight. While choosing from 8 different directions the viewer explores 8 endangered places; it becomes the extended experience. Asta-dik-palaka, (visual metaphor) in indian mythology are the 8 guards of the 8 directions who ensure that the travelers are protected, taking their minds away from anxieties and 'the fear' which is in the traveler's mind. It speaks about the willpower that is within us which can be controlled by ourselves. Interaction: as viewer passes nereby the artwork, the audio and video starts automatically. In front of the aircraft window in the center, below there are interactive 8 buttons to engage with the painted panels, Ashta-dik-palaka connecting to the videos of 8 endangered places.



Used to being commissioned for large scale works, Moreshwar Patil was still daunted by the scale asked of him here. The section of the Silents Sentinels, featuring the cultural objects of the Nagas of North-East India, was a huge expanse of wall that measured 127 square feet. The backdrop needed to throw these stark wooden artefacts into relief and a context binding them together had to be created. Patil decided to paint the surface deriving inspiration from Naga textiles. Visually deconstructed these traditional carpets, recomposing their elements as a series of panels that when pieced together became large site-specific works. He is experienced at this, having previously executed private commissions on ceilings and walls in homes and hotels, drawing on the rich textile tradition of India. Asked by the curator to not merely copy the textile patterns but to create an anubhuti or experience of Naga life and culture for the visitors at the airport, he launched himself into months of research, familiarizing himself with Naga textiles. Naga shawls are boldly patterned in black, white, red and dark indigo. Made from a mix of cotton and wool they are patterned with stripes and painted animal motifs symbolizing the characteristics of the wearer. The design of the shawl has a tremendous symbolic meaning – it can reveal the wearer’s gender, clan identity, as well as social status. “I was fascinated by the rich vocabulary of the Naga textiles and their immense textural quality. My paintings were intended both to represent their diversity as a cultural tradition as well as their visual and physical qualities.” Layering handmade paper on canvas, he painted over this surface; the unevenness gave a creased and rumpled effect much like textile - nonetheless it was durable and flat. Dividing the enormous surface into modular units, seventy-five panels each measuring 8 x 4 feet are joined into sections of 4 x 16 feet and were assembled on site. Each panel is a distinct drawing referencing a specific Naga textile. “When joined the surface will not look like one artificially enlarged Naga shawl, but like an applique of the many unique shawls worn by the Nagas.  



The brief given was to create or source terracotta horses from different parts of India and create a display for the airport that shows a glimpse of alternative rituals practiced in our country. Four regions mainly Poshina, Chota Udaipur, Bankura & Aayanar were shortlisted and artisans from each region were invited at IICd and votives of various sizes ranging from 1 ft to 10 ft. were made.   Votive horses from various regions of the country, fashioned from clay and found in sacred groves and wayside shrines. From the collection of clay to the complete disintegration of the figures,the votive horses offer a synoptic view of the rhythm of Indian life, centered as it is on the concept of birth and rebirth.