fabric, mirrors, sequins, collage and acrylic on panel; 50 x 50 in.
Drawing from my dual backgrounds as both a South East Asian and an American, my work is a hybrid of Western media and Asian craft, ornament, and symbolism. I apply acrylic and oil media in between and on top of a variety of Indian materials: sari fabric, circular mirrors and sequins, Henna tattoo prints and kitschy images of Indian myths from calendars, posters and comic books. Working my way in and around these various materials, the mixture begins to dance, exploding off the canvas in a rhythm of brilliant colors, fragmented Hindu idols, ancient stories, and modern commercialism. Through this process of cutting, layering, abstracting and reconstructing images of Indian culture, I create new environments for my dual cultures to co-exist, thematically and stylistically.
My recent paintings explore our nation’s preoccupation with borrowed religious symbols and iconography. They reflect a struggle to recapture mythic significance. Ironically, the flood of these highly charged images into the commercial marketplace, such as using Hindu deities to create trendy t-shirts and handbags, only increases Western culture’s hunger for a connection to what an Eastern worldview offers.
I question how these Indian images, lingering in our subconscious, survive in a consumer driven culture. Do their meanings change? Can such imagery be transformed or re-invented altogether? By reformulating the traditional boundaries of Indian spirituality and craft with Western painting techniques, I create a structure for cross-cultural dialogue that tackles my own questions of spiritual and cultural identity. In turn, these narratives investigate the role myth plays in contemporary art and society.
© Namita Kapoor