Silence in the Storm

by Rumi Samadhan

Mrudula Kunatharaju’s solo debut ‘Possibility of an Otherwise’ leads us through her memoirs of the familial, the social and her myriad  encounters of the Self. These fragile yet biting, subtle yet powerful explorations linger as metaphoric possibilities.  Here, the personal questions the societal prejudices as she explores through her own existence.  Kunatharaju’s surveillance of the self, witnesses and explores questions around body, space and home, where self and the other become central to her expression as an artist.  

‘Walls Of My Own’ 2023, Watercolour, pen and graphite pencil on paper. Two from unit of four works, 21 x 14.8 cm each.

She re-imagines a feminist worldview while she candidly  subverts held beliefs on feminity, socio-political traces, and spaces of isolation and familiar.  These provoke a stimulus as they allude discomfort, or a comfort of a cocoon, building a tangible tension that take us through shades of life, death and transitory spaces.  Her observation of the territorial brings us to the natural world, which often question coexistence.  Kunatharaju’s artworks create a network of tangible boundaries, filled with absences, invasions of territories, be it personal or collective, where suspended forms of suppression awaits liberation. 

‘Silence in the Storm’ 2023, Watercolour, graphite pencil, pen, charcoal, ink and tea tone on paper. One from unit of two works, 21 x 14.8 cm.

Works such as ‘Walls of my own’, ‘Getting rid of unwanted’ explore boundaries  of the feminist worldviews,  ‘Silence in the Storm’ emits a vigilant silence, that often leads towards liberation, resistance and justice. As a post pandemic encounter, the world observes the rise of protest forms.  The spine, represents the suppressed mass, and the courageous.  Here the spine which seems weighed, imagines to take a flight, to be liberated, to be justified. ‘Sometimes something is unpredictable’  represents the unpredictability of life, which is ever changing and full of surprises. 

‘Sometimes something is unpredictable’ 2023, Watercolour on paper. One from unit of two works, 21x 14.8cm.

‘Nothing Being Parallel’ 2023, Watercolour, graphite pencil and tea tone on paper. 75 x 54.9cm.

An axial painting on the wall, ‘Nothing being parallel’ draws us into Kunatharaju holding a suspended string pendulum creating a central pull. Where emblems are often held on a column, Kunatharaju defines a clear view of her perspective holding gravity, as she stands on a column. This view, this gravitational perspective is perhaps the socio-political-ecological, where the tilt, represents the existing inequalities, or the world at large.
As light illuminates the darkness, a curious Kunatharaju chases ‘The small light’, which she cups her hands to observe the luminous fireflies, who communicate through bleeping lights in darkness. While within a corner of light-emitting fireflies lies a shadow self, perhaps metaphoric of the margin, barely visible, or metaphoric of the gross social ignorance, which luminous minds elevate.
Curator Shristi Sainani observes Kunatharaju’s genealogical self portraits as confessional memoirs, Kunatharaju’s delicate narrations within the spatial realms of her home, confronts taboo and patriarchy, while her quest for liberation and justice becomes a tool to transform silence through art, giving it a voice of resistance.
The artist’s subtle expressions are realised through her paintings, sculptures and documentary films as she creates confrontations of her quantum self, where the viewer is invited to participate in the complex context of the artist’s performative self expressions. ‘Possibility of an Otherwise’, Mrudula Kunatharaju’s solo debut was exhibited at the Apre Art House, Mumbai, between November 09, 2023 and January 02, 2024.

Author’s Bio:

Rumi Samadhan is an independent curator, researcher and a visual artist, based between Mumbai and Kolhapur. Her research interests engage between Museum-studies, Regional studies and, Existential politics. Articulating Dalit Visual Art Practices for the Curatorial Intensive South Asia, 2019 CISA Fellowship, Khoj, she curated- ‘1927-The Mahad Satyagraha- ‘Erasure’ as a form of assertion’, a group show. Her recent co-curation, fundraiser ‘Broken Foot – Unfolding Inequalities’, responded to the critical 2020 migrant-labour crisis, where 60 artists’ collectively raised their voice in solidarity for the cause. She has recently contributed an essay on Public Art practices for the Serendipity Arts Festival, Projects/Processes 2022 edition. She has completed her PG in Modern and Contemporary Indian Art and Curatorial
Studies, from the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum [BDL], Mumbai.

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