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Rodwittiya’s female gaze

Rekha Rodwittiya on her exhibition that commemorates her 60th birthday

The artist at her 60th birthday exhibition. Photo: Rekha Rodwittiya and Sakshi Gallery
The artist at her 60th birthday exhibition. Photo: Rekha Rodwittiya and Sakshi Gallery

One of India’s pioneering feminist artists, Rekha Rodwittiya is celebrating her 60th birthday by gifting herself a new exhibition. Rekha@Sixty: Transient Worlds Of Belonging opened on 31 October, at Sakshi Gallery, Mumbai (on till 30 November), and looks back at the artist’s journey.

In the gallery, Rodwittiya’s watercolours are interspersed with intricate laser-cut metal motifs. In another watercolour series, Rodwittiya presents one of her iconic representations of the female form. The artist is noted for setting the female figure free from the shackles of a voyeuristic gaze. Rodwittiya’s women, in fact, gaze directly at viewers. “The female figure as a central image is not arrived at by chance in my work. It is consciously placed (in my art) as an endorsement of female victory," says Rodwittiya. In this series, a woman balances a basket laden with sundry items on her head. It’s almost as if facets of the artist’s personality have been dispersed across each of these works.

Born in Bengaluru and now based out of Vadodara, her practice has been highlighted by significant achievements, such as Songs From The Blood Of The Weary, which was shown in Geneva to commemorate 50 years of the United Nations.

The exhibition pops with pomegranates, among other fertility motifs, and it feels exuberant overall; the abundance on the walls conveys the sense that at 60, she is grateful. But the artist also cautions, “When you have lived your life with more years than remain ahead of one, you recognize that human frailties remain in perpetuity, feeding cycles of violence and war as a continuum that is never ending. So it requires great determination to insist of oneself to believe in the hope of betterment for the future."

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