A Creative Revival | Verve Magazine
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April 24, 2015

A Creative Revival

Text by Huzan Tata

Artist Praneet Soi’s solo show, Srinagar, presents a brilliant display of intricate papier- mâché tiles

You’ve marvelled at the stunning pietra dura work on the Taj Mahal, Humayun’s Tomb and other Islamic monuments. The architecture of these gorgeous buildings fascinates you. Now, you have the chance to see the intricate work up close, at Kolkata-born artist Praneet Soi’s solo art show, Srinagar.

Soi first visited Srinagar in 2010, where he met Fayaz Jan, the ustad of an atelier, whose apprentices painted traditional motifs on papier-mâché boxes and Kashmiri souvenirs that one finds in shops across the country. The artist worked in collaboration with these craftsmen, to create his latest body of work – papier- mâché tiles with traditional geometric designs that one finds in Islamic art and architecture. The show also includes a projection of a sequence of images which look closer into the wall-embedded patterns at Sufi shrines.

The tiles ‘play incessantly with the tight frame they are bound by. Often they transform into vignettes of the valley, often the valley becomes the patterns’, says the press note for the exhibition.

With the papier- mâché tiles, the slide show, and the bits and pieces collected by him in the course of his stay there, Soi shares his own view of the city that is Srinagar – and the beauty that is Kashmir.

5 Questions with the artist, Praneet Soi

  1. Artistic Motivations “It is a way for me to engage with the world and by doing so comment on a contemporaneous landscape – here in the extended sense, a social and political engagement.”
  2. Inspirations “The work of Jean Pierre Gorin, the French documentary film maker, have influenced me greatly, as have the writings of Manny Farber. The works of Somnath Hore have always been a source of inspiration, as has his commitment to social commentary.”
  3. On the wall at home “Being an artist doesn’t necessarily mean that your walls should be surrounded by art. There are very few and they are mostly unaffordable! But my partner Irene (who is also an artist) and I, do have at home some of my friends’ works.”
  4. Concerns that find a place in your art “I’m not ‘concerned about the world’ in the moral sense of the word. I abhor works that are overtly pious, that have a ‘message’.”
  5. If not an artist, you would be… “Who knows? I certainly don’t.”

Srinagar is on display at Experimenter, Kolkata (2/1 Hindusthan Road) until May 30, 2015.

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