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At Home In The Universe

A review of the exhibition ‘At Home in the Universe’ that was held from July 20 to September 7, 2019 at the Jhaveri Contemporary in Mumbai.

At Home in the Universe Installation view, Photograph by Mohammed Chiba. All Images Courtesy of the Artists and Jhaveri Contemporary.
Micro and macro worlds collide as the works of Harminder Judge and Mahirwan Mamtani come together at Jhaveri Contemporary. Titled at home in the universe, the artworks effortlessly combine both male and female forces in an open, free-flowing, powerful space. 
In the artistic practices of both Harminder Judge and Mahirwan Mamtani, the element of Tantra and tantric energy is palpable. While Judge uses an alchemical process to mix plaster, polymer and pigment to create singularly unique and layered works, Mamtani draws from the influence of geometry and mandalas to formulate his creations. Whether the colours reverberate at a certain frequency or the shapes used bring to mind ancient tantric symbols, the works connect deeply with the viewer.

Mahirwan Mamtani, Centrovision 870, Acrylic on wood cut out, 60 cm x 60 cm, 1986. All Images Courtesy of the Artists and Jhaveri Contemporary.
Mamtani also narrates that his practice sees the influence of European Constructivism and the bindu, to which he frequently returns to meditate and draw upon. The use of this motif is familiar from the dynamic and all-encompassing works of S.H. Raza, though Mamtani chooses a softer use of colour to represent his own, inventive spaces. As much as the work speaks of the ability to traverse between alternative dimensions, it is also incredibly personal.

Harminder Judge, Dividing edge of sugarcane, polymer, plaster, pigments, oil and wax, 73 cm x 113 cm x 4 cm, 2019. All Images Courtesy of the Artists and Jhaveri Contemporary.
While Mamtani’s work draws subtle parallels to mandalas and geometric symbols, Judge’s work draws upon a much larger, oval imagery such as the Hindu cosmic egg (Brahmanda) and the Shiva linga. He also likens his works to that of Rajasthani Tantric painters and their similar use of controlled pigment strokes. 
As Rebecca Heald, UK-based curator, rightly mentioned in her essay on the exhibition: ‘For both artists their relationship to Tantra is as much about the individual as it is the universal. It also affords them a tool with which to confront questions of displacement, as well as ways to connect with an ancestral home.’

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