CHENNAI: A picture is worth a thousand words, but what if 1,000 words inspired a picture? Renowned city-based visual artist Parvathi Nayar will be talking about it during the Madras Week celebrations. “I love words and I love pictures, so I thought why not connect the two and talk. It will be about contemporary art, which is a mysterious thing for most of the people, and the role of books in contemporary art,” she explains.
Parvathi was interested in art even as a child. “Art is the center of what I do; I have always drawn and painted even as a child — scribbling on walls just like any other child.” she chuckles. Parvathi’s art works usually revolve around what she refers to as ‘Site Specific’. Most of her drawings, paintings, installations are inspired by the place that it was created at.
“Being an avid reader, I’ve also loved words. I grew up at a time when there was no internet. It was a rich internal life from which I was able to take pictures of the world. I did work at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale. It was an installation which was influenced by the stories of Kochi — the traders that came in and went out on the shores of Kochi.
Similar is the ‘Whispering pictures, Drawing words’ talk at the Madras Literary Society. It’s just a fun contemporary way of talking about art within a 200-year old institution,” she adds.
Where does she take inspiration from? “It is the diversity of life that inspires me,” she smiles. Parvathi who had recently attended the ‘Documenta’ an art show in Athens says that she came across a work called the ‘Parthenon of Banned Books’, which was a structure created with around 1 lakh banned books. “It made me think, pause and see books differently — just the existence of a book means so many cultural things,” she avers.
‘Drawn Sculpture’, a concept she developed, has won her many accolades and appreciation. The term which she says was given by a friend and is an idea that she experimented on. “I love to draw and I thought of creating a piece with a twist.” she smiles. Her biggest ‘drawn sculpture’ (20-foot-high) was installed in the Mumbai airport
Drawing, painting, photography, making sculptures, and photography — Parvathi knows it all. How does she manage all these? “It has been a very organic growth. I have always been interested in materials. My journey has been very different from that of other artists I believe. I did colours — pastels, oils, etc. I really like the idea of using different types of mediums,” she explains.
Recalling an experiment she did in the kitchen with ice cubes and her camera, Parvathi says that she ended up making a video out of the little experiment and called it ‘ocean in the kitchen’. “Initially, I was just clicking pictures of ice cubes, when I thought about how they would look if
Parvathi is happy with the opportunities she has got and continues to explore her art everyday. But, she admits that our city and the country as a whole, has offered very less to the field. “I am not saying that the world owes me. But the nature of the art is such that it needs patronage. It is my duty to build the art, but I need a scaffolding to build it. And I really wish there was more patronage – from personal, corporate and government levels,” she avers.