oneWall: Simrin Mehra Agarwal

1X1 Art Gallery
Alserkal Avenue, Dubai
Until 13 September 

Simrin Lives and works in Kolkata and Abu Dhabi. Her work explores the undercurrents of animism ingrained in the culture, beliefs, and conventions of her maternal home located in Jhargram, a magical and charming village surrounded by dense Sal forests, in the Indian state of Bengal.

Her work is driven by the awareness that traditional cultures are fast disappearing and there is a need to preserve the sacred ceremonies, cultural traditions, and heritage that are all too vulnerable to the trends of modernity. Coming from the royal family of this region, she is also deeply interested in critically examining the visual history and transitional phases of royalty from the days of grandeur to the current day.

Her inspiration comes from her passion for restoring, archiving, and attaching new meanings to objects that teeter on the verge of oblivion. Recreating personal articles of ancestors like photographs, diaries, books, letters, clocks, coins, clothing, furniture, manuscripts, etc. is a process of expressing feelings of nostalgia and loss by unearthing the past, collecting fossils and giving these treasures a new life. By deciphering and reliving the long lost and forgotten stories, the artwork itself becomes a relic frozen in time and space.

She seeks to capture traces of the architecture and objects of ancient buildings, overrun with vegetation and yet able to testify to the greatness of the civilizations that built them. These works are based on an idea of dignity and magnificence, expressed through the grandiosity and isolation of the elements so as to obtain a sublime sentiment of past greatness.

The subject decides the medium through which it is best expressed. She has incorporated different surfaces and mediums in her work such as handmade-rice paper, thick cotton paper, wooden boxes and slabs, canvas, linen, light-boxes with acrylic sheet and aluminum panels.

The strong bond between the mediums forms the core of Simrin’s work. Freehand drawing is the quintessential element. She enjoys the polarity within the medium- the graphical and the painterly, boldness and sensitivity, curvilinear and straight-lined, transparency and opacity and linearity and solidity. The scale and the format, as well as the placement of the work, also play an important and meaningful part in her work.