Plans, Dreams and Destiny

Plans, Dreams and Destiny is an ongoing series of drawing and print based work on paper. The first collection from this series was shown at Gallery Espace, New Delhi in 2018 as part of a two perosn show with Dr. Paula Sengupta. Below is the concept note from this show, along with images of the works.

Plans, Dreams and Destiny
by Nandini Bagla Chirimar

I often wonder how we become who we are - is it genetic, environmental, circumstantial or purely coincidental? How much space in our mind is occupied by memories versus the present? 

For the past few years I have been working with my concept of “Unwritten Wills’, in which I explore the larger question of what we receive from people and places that are important to us. Their true legacy, one that does not come in a will or legal document.

For this exhibition, I continue this theme with a specific focus: an exploration of the house I grew up in. House Number A-2, in the Pink City of Jaipur. I study several aspects of this house, including floor plans and city maps, the physical architecture, objects inside it, and the plants growing there. People who have been part of this home, including me, will find their way in my work through all of  these. 

Looking through the floor plans of this house, I realized every inch of the house was imprinted in my  brain, like a blueprint to my life. The walls, staircases, rooms each were full of history. Every object had a memory and some meaning to me. For example, each book in my father’s bookshelf reminded me of something about him - and how much of the same characteristic I found within myself too, even though I might never have read the book. 

The fabric throughout the house - clothes in closets, trunks, saris, and linen have always been part of my visual vocabulary. Many of their floral patterns are from block printing traditions special to the city, and signify home to me. Stacks of saris become the person who they belong to…I remembered specific instances of my mother and my nanny wearing many of them. 

I draw from many objects in the house, like birth charts, calendars, letters, doilies, album covers and other personal belongings. I also study the various plants and flora growing there, and think of how people who are no more live through them and continue to be part of our life. Drawing complex details in each leaf with a pencil or etching needle, I am reminded of the depth of ties I have with them.
Working with this house and its contents, I wondered if spaces we grow up in become a foundation for who we are. I was surprised at how many similar objects, patterns, even thoughts I found in my current home and life. The emotions that accompany these objects acquired an abstract, sometimes overwhelming life of their own. They become a visual presence in my work through incessant, detailed line and color. 

My explorations answer some questions for me, but many remain, and I continue to think, draw and print. It is my hope that my work will generate thoughts about these important questions that many of us reflect on in our lives. 

The majority of pieces in this show are works on paper, including drawing and print based works. They are created using pencil and experimental printing techniques on Japanese Kozo paper. This paper comes in many weights and translucency levels, which makes it possible to stretch the boundaries of printmaking during the printing process. It also allows for complex layering using Chine collé, drawing and painting. Various grades of pencil, pen, watercolor, etching and Japanese woodblock printing are used to make detailed drawings and areas of color throughout the work. Gold leaf, thread and small objects are also used, and sometimes the paper is cut, rolled or stacked to make relief work.