Critics’ Picks

View of “Regarding Embodiment,” 2016.

View of “Regarding Embodiment,” 2016.

New Delhi

Naiza Khan and Manisha Parekh

The Dhan Mill, 100 Feet Rd Chhatarpur Hills
November 5–December 16, 2016

In “Regarding Embodiment,” Naiza Khan and Manisha Parekh bond over their shared preoccupation with the morphological. An exploration of shapes––biological, cartographic, and symbolic––is the dominant theme of the exhibition, which at first glance seems to be orchestrating a duet between very different materials.

Belonging to a long tradition of South Asian works that render the geographic through representation (Sudhir Patwardhan) and abstraction (Zarina Hashmi), Khan’s matte oils on linen feature multicolored mazes while her monochromatic screen prints show civic plans and dust-hazed cityscapes. That Parekh is inspired by the natural world is most apparent in her expressive graphite drawings that look like diagrams. The hyperfeminine craftsmanship of the series “Enshrined,” 2016, with its rich fabrics, rubs up against the subcellular forms it suggests. Jute pretzels reminiscent of the sculptor Ranjani Shettar adhere to the walls, looking like plasma under a microscope from afar.

Both artists’ desire to examine spatial logics is the abiding focus of the show, pertaining to bodies both biochemical and urban. Also important is the way in which memory imprints itself on physical matter—Parekh titled her ink works after the places in Japan that inspired her, for instance, while Khan’s attempt to highlight the palimpsestic nature of the built environment is more obvious. While emphasizing the violence that underlies industrial development, Khan’s cool palette and sedateness is in sharp contrast to the drama of Parekh’s mediums—silk, velvet, graphite, charcoal, jute, ink, and different grains of paper—though, curatorially, the show doesn’t quite manage to capture this tension.