Cosmic Garden

Cosmic Garden

Chanakya Foundation

March 4, 2024
Cosmic Garden
An artistic collaboration between Madhvi Parekh, Manu Parekh, Karishma Swali & Chanakya School of Craft
April 20–November 24, 2024
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Press preview: April 18, 11am–12pm
Official opening: April 18, 12:30–2pm
Salone Verde Art & Social Club
Calle Regina, 2258
30135 Venice

The Chanakya Foundation and Karishma Swali are pleased to present Cosmic Garden, a Collateral Event of the 60th International Art Exhibition—the Venice Biennale.

Supported by Dior and held at Salone Verde—Art & Social Club, in the historical Venetian area of Rialto, Italy, from April 20 to November 24, 2024, the exhibition honours the pluralistic beauty of India’s cultural heritage, featuring paintings and sculptures by Madhvi Parekh and Manu Parekh, and the evolution of their practice into a third interdisciplinary medium—hand-embroidery—presented through crafted works and sculptures created by Chanakya Foundation’s Creative Director Karishma Swali and the Chanakya School of Craft—a Mumbai-based non-profit institution committed to the emancipation of women through craft.

This carefully curated series of works embraces a multidisciplinary approach, dismantling hierarchies between the arts, roles, and genres. The project seeks to re-evaluate the mutual relationship between women and embroidery, transcending the confines of domesticity by bringing hand-embroidery into the public sphere. 

Madhvi Parekh’s paintings depict formidable female deities surrounded by celestial beings and symbolic representations, inspired by Indian mythology. Unfolding like a narrative, she tailors each work to its required scale, expanding from a singular image into expansive, existential narratives. By blending childhood memories, folk motifs, legends, and figures with abstract subjects, Madhvi celebrates the profound connection between humans and the divine.

Manu Parekh’s work, which is also influenced by Indian cultural traditions, in contrast, incorporates aspects of Western modernism and abstract expressionism. His vibrant compositions, characterised by broken lines, stripes, crosses, and floral motifs, embody the cosmic harmony of masculine and feminine energies. Through his intuitive use of colour and bold lines, he engages in experiments with vibrant abstractions, sexual imagery, and figuration. His artistic responses extend not only to the influences of nature but also to the nuances of daily life and social issues.

Just as both artists celebrate Indian ancestral traditions and myths, where the spiritual dimension serves as a potent imaginative and creative device, the interdisciplinary works created by Karishma Swali and the Chanakya School of Craft transcend conventional boundaries to carve out an artistic language firmly rooted in collective cultural histories. 

Drawing upon that language—first unveiled at the Dior Spring Summer 2022 haute couture presentation—these new works are brought to life through meticulous needlework embroidery and handcraft techniques, utilising organic materials like raw linen, jute, silk, and cotton to capture the purity of the artists’ and Karishma Swali’s aligned vision. Affirming a practice rooted in a dialogue that redefines the roles of both artist and artisan, these three-dimensional works visually encapsulate a true artistic statement, blurring the boundaries between art and craft.

Over her 25-year career, Karishma Swali has dedicated her efforts to the preservation of India’s cultural heritage through craft excellence. Under the guidance of Maria Grazia Chiuri, Creative Director of Dior women’s collection, Chanakya Foundation co-founder, Karishma Swali established the Chanakya School of Craft in 2016 as an institution to help women harness the power of craft to address pressing challenges in society. The school’s guiding mission is twofold: to safeguard India’s cultural heritage and to unlock the infinite potential of craft. To-date, the school has taught over 1000 women, across all ages and socio-economic backgrounds, forming a strong community of skilled female artisans. 

Curated by Maria Alicata and Paola UgoliniCosmic Garden celebrates the affirmation of a new language which highlights female creative energy, shining light on the vital role of local communities in preserving the rich, diverse essence of Indian traditions.

Further information and images can be found in the media kit.

To attend the Press preview, please click here

For international media queries, please contact: Rhiannon Pickles and Vanessa Saraceno at Pickles PR.

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Chanakya Foundation
March 4, 2024

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