Yesterday at the Nayaab exhibition, in pursuit of excellence in textile crafts of India, I met Neha Puri Dhir – a textile artist.
For the past three years, she has been completely immersed in the world of resist dyeing. Having worked with weaving clusters across India, she developed a deep understanding of fabric and compassion for the weavers. It enabled her to experiment with various colours and textures on handloom fabrics as her excitement was in witnessing distinct yarn combinations react differently to the same dyes.
Resist dyeing as a medium, has given her immense freedom to translate her thoughts on cloth. Being always intrigued by Japanese art and aesthetics, rooted in minimalism, she worked with Shibori; accumulating fabric samples which serendipitously became her inspiration for Nayaab.
Infact, her wearable art for Nayaab is deeply influenced by Wabi-Sabi – a Japanese aesthetic which finds beauty in the “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete”. Revolving around this philosophy, her works speak of the beauty in Boro that refers to ragged, mended and patched textiles. It was born of forgotten values of ‘mottainai’ or ‘too good to waste’; an idea lacking in the modern consumerism.
Earlier for the Shibori artworks, she had used layers of silk to add excitement to the process but because of an added cost, layers of cotton cloth were also incorporated in a pre- planned fashion, before dyeing.
Giving a withered look to a fabric by dyeing, and yet retaining its strength and texture was a tough task. The key to this challenge lay in multiple levels of dyeing, over dyeing, discharging and various stages of washing. But its the Tea dyeing intervention that added more depth to its surface giving the garments a vintage look. Interestingly, they were visualised by coordinating colour, form and texture of the available fabric samples; as they lay like a shattered kaleidoscope in front of her. For the final touches individual Shibori pieces were patched together and again resist dyed on stitched garments.
Herein, each and everything used by her was from the workshop itself, as she consciously decided against sourcing from outside. This self-imposed constraint helped in developing a new perspective and handling the material more judiciously.
The artist’s straight cut garments showcase the surface in its unadulterated form. As edges of the Kimono, Yukata and their derivatives, highlight the intricate and labour intensive fabric construction’s quintessential exquisiteness. It is impossible to reproduce any of these garments thus they are designed without any fashion forecast in mind and in free size, enabling anyone to fit into it.
Neha didn’t want to stereotype them on a model’s body, as the mind tends to develop a biased opinion. The collection is showcased in a very elemental form keeping distractions to the minimum. Her purpose was to enable viewers to appreciate the wearable art in its pure and pristine form.
For textile connoisseurs this show is a must-watch, from 11th-13th dec.’15 at the Lodhi hotel, New delhi. And Neha Puri Dhir is a rising star of the Indian art and craft scene.