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Wicca Legend Inspires Artist Boshudhara Mukherjee's Solo Exhibition 'The Familiars' at TARQ

On 11 March 2021, TARQ hosted 'The Familiars', artist Boshudhara Mukherjee's solo exhibition presenting her distinctive style of large-scale, tapestry-like installations of “woven canvases”, exploring ideas of kinship, belonging and rebirth.

Images from top left: Egg, uncoated canvas and enamel paint, 10.5 x 8 feet; Fish (detail) 11.5 x 12 inches, canvas and acrylic paint ; Green (detail), canvas, fabric, acrylic paint and foil, 8 x 9 feet ; New Bridges (detail), canvas, uncoated canvas, sumi-e ink, acrylic paint, paper 8.5 x 7 feet | Images courtesy TARQ

TARQ opened doors to artist Boshudhara Mukherjee’s exhibition titled 'The Familiars' from 11 - 24 March, 2021. The exhibition presented eight recent works by the artist in her distinctive style of large-scale, tapestry-like installations of woven canvases. The title for this show was inspired by the Wicca legend of ‘spirit guides’ called ‘Familiars’ who are believed to take the form of an animal or human to guide individuals. The ‘Familiars’ were deemed as a source of strength and wisdom; as guardians and protectors.

The artworks in the exhibition presented the artist's introspection of her sense of drawing closer to the lives around her, drawing sustenance and inspiration from them to conjure new beings in the form of her woven canvases. For instance, she draws inspiration from her cats whose movements take on a metaphorical significance, much like they did for the French poet Charles Baudelaire, whose poem Le Chat, the artist quotes as inspiration.

For the suite of works presented in this show, Boshudhara continues her practices of shredding painted canvases or revisiting old canvases only to dismantle them, repurposing these to create new entities that take on an entirely original form. For instance, her piece New Bridges is a recent work, created from a work titled Bridges , that the artist had created for her solo exhibition at TARQ in 2016. New Bridges , is an entity of its own and yet carries the memory of an old act of creation within it. A celebration of the dichotomy of continuity and rupture is a strong theme in Boshudhara’s practice.

Images from the exhibition (swipe left) | Images courtesy TARQ

As her distinctive technique, Boshudhara weaves in found objects - some of sentimental significance, others entirely coincidental - into her canvases that resemble tapestries or fragments of carefully mended textile. Much like a committed master weaver, Boshudhara attributes a deeply meditative experience to her process where the rhythm of her hands takes over any self-conscious gesture, until there is a oneness between the artist and her artwork that grows and appears to respond to the artist’s touch.

Talking about the ideas being explored in this exhibition, Boshudhara says “ The spirits of the Familiars have their own physical existence, yet they are a spiritual extension of the individual they are destined to guard or move with. My artworks are an alter-ego I have conjured and yet I see these self-determining, organically growing entities, following their own predestined path.”

This exhibition marked something of a homecoming for the artist, who had her last solo at the gallery in 2016 in an exhibition titled Canticle .

She prowls around my shadowy brain

as though it were her dwelling-place

— a great soft beast of charming ways,

meowling in a mellow strain.

- Le Chat, Fleurs du mal, Charles Baudelaire

Exhibition Details:

Title: The Familiars

Artist: Boshudhara Mukherjee

Dates: 11 March - 24 April, 2021

Gallery: TARQ, Mumbai

About the Artist: Boshudhara Mukherjee

Boshudhara Mukherjee (b.1983) is a Bangalore-based artist with a practice that lies at the intersection of painting, weaving and installation art. She most recently exhibited her work in a group show at TARQ titled Navigating Realities in May 2020. Her last major solo exhibition titled Canticle took place at TARQ in 2016.

Boshudhara graduated from the Maharaja Sayajirao University in Baroda in 2008. While at university, she was the recipient of the Nasreen Mohamadi Foundation Scholarship. She went on to receive the Inlaks Foundation Fine art award in 2010 and the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant in 2013.

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