Meet the first three artists at the new Chemould/Shift Art Gallery

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Chandigarh-based artist Gurjeet Singh’s soft sculptures and Delhi-based artist Tarini Sethi’s iron and shadow sculptures are on display at Chemould Shift, a newly opened art space in Mumbai that supports young groundbreaking artists about to become famous

Chandigarh-based artist Gurjeet Singh’s soft sculptures and Delhi-based artist Tarini Sethi’s iron and shadow sculptures are on display at Chemould Shift, a newly opened art space in Mumbai that supports young groundbreaking artists about to become famous

At Mumbai’s Chemould/Shift, a gallery that’s an extension of the 59-year-old Chemould Prescott Road contemporary art gallery, textile artist Gurjeet Singh creates soft, moving sculptures from discarded pieces of printed fabric.

A metaphor for the rejection of the imperfect, her choice of material manifests emotions triggered by childhood memories of bullying and harassment. Born and raised in Algon Kothi, Punjab, a village nearly 50 kilometers from Amritsar, Gurjeet shares his rapport with the feeling of being pushed out, much like the discarded pieces of perfectly coherent rolls of fabric. “They called me a girl. They teased me, forcibly kissed me, touched me and harassed me. Often I would come home and cry,” recalls the 27-year-old Chandigarh-based artist.

The youngest of his siblings (four sisters and one brother), Gurjeet considers himself lucky to have studied at the Government College of Art in Chandigarh. “In the cities, you have the impression of living in the 21st century, which is not the case in the villages. They are centuries behind us in people’s thinking. Art is a vent for my experiences, especially those I had in school. It saved me from being buried under the weight of my emotions,” he says, at Sugra Manzil, a century-old residential building in Colaba, home to Chemould/SHIFT which was launched in March by Atyaan Jungalwala and Sunaina Rajan.

A platform for young artists

“Through this new gallery space, we want to support young artists who are breaking through at the start of their careers. For our first group of resident artists, we wanted to have people working with different materials and mediums. We wanted them to share the same space and the same experiences,” explains Sunaina. The gallery has decided to host a summer residency program, spanning eight to 12 weeks each year. “Artists have accommodation and a studio where they can work,” she adds.

(l) Sunaina, (r) Atyaan

(l) Sunaina, (r) Atyaan

As one of three artists invited for the gallery’s first three-month residency, Gurjeet says he has made about five soft sculptures since moving to Mumbai in May for the residency. “The story behind the carvings is of a Punjabi boy whom I call Kirat. Kirat writes about gay people in Punjab. One of his stories is about a dream. It is about how the smallest of experiences leaves a lasting impression on the subconscious. I recreate the expressions of the dream characters with scraps of fabric discarded from thank you (bolts). I feel the material is very similar to me,” he says. Gurjeet not only wants to challenge gender norms and perceptions, but also the idea of ​​beauty and perfection. “Where I’m from, dark-skinned people are often told they won’t get married. I want to challenge the idea of ​​beauty, not just the perception of gender through my work,” he says.

A utopian space

At a visible distance from Gurjeet, Delhi-based visual artist Tarini Sethi (32) creates iron and shadow art installations at the gallery, using acrylic, welded iron and laser-cut metal . Art is in his family. “My father is a product designer and my mother runs an NGO that revives languid craftsmanship. I’ve always been quirky and weird. Through art, I express imaginative spaces where everything is nearly perfect,” she says. Most of his art revolves around the idea of ​​utopia. She draws her inspiration from myths and popular tales. “A lot of my work is based on my dreams. I express the imbalance of human relationships and create installations where sculptures project the shadows of a utopian space on the wall, a sort of alternative kingdom”, she says. A commentary on human-nature relationships, Tarini’s art reflects the idea of ​​a perfect world, where love and kinship take center stage.

Tarini Sethi

Tarini Sethi

While Gurjeet and Tarni continue their residency at the gallery, Rithika, a visual artist based in Mumbai and the UK, just completed her residency a few weeks ago. Her art draws on the personal, the mythological and the scientific to navigate the mystical spaces of human entanglements. Depicting questions around hybridity, displacement, the future and femininity, her painted worlds become sacred spaces containing events where boundaries are transgressed and transformations are imminent. These imaginary worlds offer interstellar realities, occupied by powerful psychological tropes. Her work highlights the nature of companionship, recovery, and opens up allegorical possibilities of a future that goes beyond apocalypse as an endpoint.

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