Madhvi Parekh (b. 1942)
A self-taught contemporary artist, Madhvi Parekh is known for her narratorial Surrealist paintings. Based on personal experiences, Parekh’s artistic practice draws connections between embroidery techniques such as kantha and sujani, rangoli, kalamkari and other Indian folk traditions.
Parekh was born and raised near Ahmedabad, Gujarat, and began painting after her husband, Manu Parekh, introduced her to the work of German artist Paul Klee. Soon after, she began painting in a style similar to Klee’s.
Drawing inspiration from her childhood in a rural landscape, Parekh’s work resonates with themes of myth, totem, fantasy and memory. Her early works featured basic shapes, dots and dashes, which resemble hand embroidery stitches. Her work is further characterised by simple compositions with strong lines and vibrant colours. She has worked across a variety of mediums, including oil on canvas, charcoal, serigraphs, etchings, ink and glitter pens.
Parekh travelled extensively to enhance her visual repertoire and creative style. Inspired by the Christian fables she encountered on her trips to Jerusalem and Moscow, in 2006, she began creating a series of Biblical scenes around the image of Christ. In 2011, Parekh learned the technique of reverse painting on acrylic paper from Nalini Malini and created a massive five-panel artwork based on Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper. In 2013, she collaborated with Rajeev Sethi and Satbir Kajania to create the Udan Khatola installation for the Mumbai Airport.
She began exhibiting in 1968 in Kolkata and has since shown her works across India and internationally. In 1998, she exhibited her work alongside contemporaries Arpita Singh, Nalini Malini and Nilima Sheikh in a travelling exhibition titled Through the Looking Glass. Her works have also been shown at Manchester Gallery (2002); Gallery Espace, New Delhi (2013); Grosvenor Vadehra, London (2007); India Habitat Centre, New Delhi (2013); and Delhi Art Gallery, New Delhi (2019). She received the National Award from Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi (1979) and the Government of India Senior Fellowship (1989–91).
At the time of writing, Parekh lives and works in Delhi.
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