Warp ‘n’ Weft, a new series based on the verses of poet saint Kabir, has brought artist Ritu Chopra in the spotlight. Curated by Renu Rana, Art Inc, all the 30 works on display portrayed spiritual elements, bathed in calm colors.
“Jheeni, jheeni, beeni chadariya”, the verse of the simple weaver poet, implies that the body is the cloth that covers the soul and that cloth is woven with the “ida, pingla and shushumna”, the three subtle arteries in our body. They form the intricate warp and the weft of the body and Kabir wants to keep that “chadariya” unblemished.
The artworks portray the rise of the Kundalini, the five elements or “tattva” that give the body its physical form and spiritual elevation. A few depict yoga postures, indicating that in order to gain internal altitude, one needs a fit body. Held at the Open Palm Court, India Habitat Centre, the venue welcomed visitors, connoisseurs and buyers. The artist spoke to The Goodwill Project.
Besides being a mother, I have come across several newborn babies, but one incident stands out. I watched the skin or the white “jhili” peel off a newborn and Kabir’s verse rang in my ears, comparing the human body to the warp and weft of fabric that the soul wears. Kabir’s poetry, “Jhini Jhini Bini Chaderiya” inspired me and, based on this poetry, I presented my series of paintings, “Warp n Weft”.
What is it about your paintings that you want viewers to absorb?
When someone views my paintings, I want them to appreciate the efforts taken by the Divine weaver to subtly create beautiful tapestry and cloth that we all wear over our souls. Choosing three qualities (the “gunas”) and five elements, He created each one of us, taking nine months.
I carefully and deliberately choose the depiction to be abstract. My paintings represent “nadis”, the vast network of energy channels, the nerves, veins and thread that has been spun from the essence of the soul. Kabir talks about Ingla, Pingla and Shushumna, and I have depicted them in three colors on canvas.
Since there is no line or form in most works, how important are colors?
My choice of colors depends on the composition. I have painted some works in subtle earth colors and others in stark black and gold. There was no particular line of thought that I followed.
What’s next for you as an artist?
I will give myself a break after this magnificent exhibition, rejuvenate and wait for creativity to raise its beautiful head again.
ART CRITIC RENU RANA: Ritu Chopra’s new series Warp ‘n Weft is a synthesis of traditional and modern values, the sum total of spiritual and secular influences that she has gathered so far. By adding vibrant textures through fabric, she freely changes the orientation to express the gradation of color and illumination. Kabir, famous for his couplets and simple poetry, is the inspirational force that motivates her new series, in abstract. As Kabir likens the woven fabric to life made of five essential elements, Ritu uses it in metaphorical imagery, staying true to the balance and rhythm in composition and harmony in color. What Kabir achieved in poetry, Ritu tries to replicate on canvas, with as much dedication and verve.