Prabhleen Kaur Paints A Contemporary Picture For The Underrated Art Of Mehndi | Verve Magazine
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April 12, 2019

Prabhleen Kaur Paints A Contemporary Picture For The Underrated Art Of Mehndi

Photographs by Akshay Sharma. Creative Direction by Prabhleen Kaur. Assisted by Imdad Barbhuyan and Shubhra Sharma. Make-up by Hardika Saroy. Muses: Rajat Trehan, Nathan Khiangte, Gavin George, Afsha, Melissa Khiangte, Prabhleen Kaur

Visually inviting, soothing on the skin, earthy scents – mehndi stimulates all senses. The undervalued art of its application is a beautiful technique, which also creates a shared space of intimacy between the person applying the henna and the one whose skin is being adorned. In an exclusive project for Verve, Delhi-based visual artist and textile designer Prabhleen Kaur uses the contours of palms and feet as canvases, and conceptualises contemporary mehndi designs that celebrate indigenous motifs and human diversity

“The visual of the pre-application process is a glimpse into the equally satisfying and indigenous processes of grinding the henna leaves on a stone, combining cloves, lemon leaves, tea and oils into the mix to make a blend for maximum pigmentation, and it deserves to be placed alongside the main act.”

“For me, symmetry is a personal preference; it gives me a sense of balance, and it’s challenging to make both sides look identical. Not only does it look beautiful, the process becomes meditative. The skin is the canvas – dark, light and all the beautiful shades in between. But there are no rules here; it’s all about having a playful time. You can definitely colour outside the lines.”

“Henna has a calming effect, pleasant and cool on particularly hot summer days. Flora in the imagery adds to the tenderness and soothing nature of mehndi. Plain whites and green leaves, all exude a whiff of peace.”

“Papaya, pomegranate clusters, banana leaves – these are some of the bounty we have easy access to. The vibe is somewhat familiar, and it makes the mehndi imagery a cleaner tropical visual.”

“Why are men expected to be rigid and tough all the time? These watertight ideas of masculinity need to be broken. The men who were a part of the project #MehndiForMen found it liberating, sans conventional gender roles, to feel at home with the idea of tiny bits of mehndi on their palms. It is opening them up to thoughts of how these gentle, lovely rituals can become the little opportunities to change the perceptions of fixed masculinity.”

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