Wrapped in a blue sari, armed with bangles and a bindi, a stocky middle-aged woman peeks out of acclaimed Indian artist Thota Vaikuntam’s framed artwork. She is surrounded by designer wear, greenery, and a few other friends who share almond-eyed glances while clad in vibrant clothes.
The silence of an art gallery is recreated well at Collage, a multi-designer boutique housed in a 70-year-old Art Deco house in Nungambakkam. At the entrance, past the greenery and lounging cats, stand three framed pieces from Vaikuntam’s collection.
Seeking Vaikuntam, a collaborative exhibition between Artworld Sarala’s Art Centre and Collage showcases pieces from Thota Vaikuntam’s collection over the last decade. These timeless art pieces are presented alongside contemporary luxury fashion from three brands — Amrich, 11.11, and Rasa
“Thota Vaikuntam is a mascot for art from Telangana, so we thought this kind of fusion would be interesting to see how art influences fashion and fashion influences art,” says Anahita Banerjee, director of Artworld Sarala’s Art Centre.
These clothing brands were meticulously chosen to complement the art. Their ethos lies in organic, fair practices of fashion without the use of any chemicals. “We’re not an art gallery or a space where you come in exclusively for the art. So in parallel, we picked three fashion brands that employ hands for their work, like block printing, or shibori. We cheekily tried to bring in clothes of a similar colour palette because we did not want to dilute from the art,” says Lata Madhu, founder of Collage.
Curating an art exhibition is an art in itself. Galleries around the world are often minimalistic and devoid of colour because the art is the main focus. “ It is the art that brings life to the space. I think the key is to not distract from the art, and we have tried to complement it with fashion,” she adds.
The oldest artwork on display is a 32-year-old rare frame of a lady in white. The piece belongs to Lata who bought it when she was only 22. “This is from the White series, which he is no longer painting. She brought so much colour into my life when I was in a sterile, lifeless apartment in the US,” she says, adding that her favourite part about Vaikuntam’s art is that he makes his women voluptuous, with relatable body types.
Seeking Vaikuntam is on display at Collage, Rutland Gate, Nungambakkam until January 26 from 11am to 7pm.
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