Cosmic Garden

Cosmic Garden

Chanakya Foundation

December 4, 2023
Cosmic Garden
an artistic collaboration between Madhvi Parekh, Manu Parekh, Karishma Swali & Chanakya Foundation
April 20–November 24, 2024
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Official preview: April 18
Salone Verde Art & Social Club
Calle Regina, 2258
30135 Venice

The Chanakya Foundation and Karishma Swali are pleased to announce a new exhibition project, titled Cosmic Garden, which will take place at Salone Verde—Art & Social Club in Venice, Italy, from April 20 to November 24, 2024.

Curated by Maria Alicata and Paola Ugolini, and marking the Foundation’s inaugural showcase in Venice, the exhibition pays homage to the pluralistic beauty of India’s artisanal legacies and indigenous art traditions. 

Cosmic Garden emerges from an ongoing fertile exchange between acclaimed Indian artists Madhvi Parekh, Manu Parekh, and Karishma Swali, creative director of the Mumbai-based Chanakya School of Craft—a non-profit institute committed to the emancipation of women through craft. 

This carefully curated series of works embraces a multidisciplinary approach, dismantling entrenched ideological hierarchies within the art world. It casts a spotlight on the contemporary reinterpretation of traditional techniques, transcending conventional boundaries to carve out a new artistic language rooted in collective cultural histories. The exhibition features an array of paintings and sculptures by Madvhi Parekh and Manu Parekh, as well as their metamorphosis into a third interdisciplinary medium—hand-embroidery—an art form refined over millennia.

Manu Parekh’s art assimilates India’s cultural tapestry while embracing elements 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. On the other hand, Madhvi Parekh’s works portray formidable female deities encircled by celestial beings and symbolic representations, inspired from Indian myths and emphasising the connection between humans and the divine. 

Karishma Swali and 320 highly-skilled artisans from the Chanakya School of Craft and the Chanakya ateliers conceptualised and interpreted the textile re-imaginings through meticulous needlework embroidery and handcrafting techniques, utilising organic materials like raw linen, jute, silk, and cotton. The result becomes a true artistic statement: a practice based on a dialogue that reinvents the role of the artist and the artisan, blurring the boundaries between art and craft.

Over the span of her 25-year career, Karishma Swali has been dedicated to elevating and preserving India’s cultural heritage through craft excellence. In 2016, she established the Chanakya School of Craft, a pivotal institution aimed at harnessing the power of craft to address the pressing challenges faced by women. The guiding mission of this school is twofold: to safeguard India’s cultural heritage and to unlock the infinite potential of craft. The school has taught over 1000 women to-date, across all ages and socio-economic backgrounds forming a strong community of skilled women.

Notably, in recent years, Karishma Swali has also fostered meaningful partnerships with luminaries like Maria Grazia Chiuri, Artistic Director of Dior’s Women’s Collection, and collaborated with influential contemporary artists, such as Judy Chicago, Olesia Trofymenko, Mickalene Thomas, and Marta Roberti. Actively involving women from diverse backgrounds, these all-encompassing projects have significantly emphasised the importance of educational institutions dedicated to creating a new autonomy for women while championing craft excellence.

Held at Salone Verde - Art & Social Club in the historic Venetian district of Rialto, and curated by Maria Alicata and Paola Ugolini, Cosmic Garden shines light on the vital role of local communities in showcasing their material culture and preserving the rich, diverse essence of Indian traditions.

Further information and images can be found in the media kit

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

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Chanakya Foundation
December 4, 2023

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