Bengaluru-based artist Heena Pari’s solo show, ‘Cocooning’ comprises different segments, each revolving around the lockdown

Bengaluru-based artist Heena Pari’s solo show, ‘Cocooning’ comprises different segments, each revolving around the lockdown

“The urge to be outdoors, especially two months into the first lockdown, was overwhelming. Summers are when we would travel as a family and those memories worked their way into my sketches,” says Bengaluru-based artist Heena Pari, who did not realise then that the body of work she produced during the pandemic would result in her second solo show.

The artist who began practising about 10 years ago, says her work and imagery have largely been influenced by her household, nature, travel and major life situations — all of which were thrown into sharper contrast over the past two years.

Artist Heena Pari

Artist Heena Pari
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Talking about ‘Cocooning’, Heena says the entire body of work was centred around how she retreated into her kitchen and garden during the pandemic and how those spaces nurtured and nourished her and her family at that time. “I realised I could not dismiss the predicament we were in and if I did not address the situation, I was not being relevant as an artist.”

Different segments of ‘Cocooning’ depict Heena’s fast-changing world. ‘Corona Series’ comprising 12 frames of acrylic on paper was her reaction to the lockdown. “Suddenly, our vocabulary included terms such as virus, sanitiser, spread, hand touch, while words such as ‘bubble’ were being used to represent something other than lightness, for perhaps the first time ever.”

Masks became an everyday accessory during this period. While house bound, Heena worked on canvas fabric and acrylic, originally purposed for another project. ‘Dark Cloud,’ is a huge installation of a mask suspended from the ceiling, complete with ear loops. “It looms large overhead and like the masks we use, though it offers protection and comfort, it is also stifling and suffocating.”

‘Two Waves’ from artist Heena Pari’s solo show ‘Cocooning’

‘Two Waves’ from artist Heena Pari’s solo show ‘Cocooning’
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Using two panels of free-flowing fabric, Heena has portrayed the ‘Two Waves’. “lt is a representation of how we are together and in isolation. The panel of self-printed, free-flowing organza represents the lightness of being together as opposed to the panel of harsh black embroidery on linen. A needle piercing through fabric is a painful process, akin to what it felt like when we were isolated.”

Two video installations are a part of the series. While ‘On Autopilot’ shows how handwashing became the norm following any social exchange, ’The Great Escape’ presents the ever-changing skyscapes as viewed from Heena’s terrace — a welcome respite during the lockdown.

‘Getaway’ from artist Heena Pari’s solo show ‘Cocooning’

‘Getaway’ from artist Heena Pari’s solo show ‘Cocooning’
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

With a collage of photographs on familiar kitchen implements, Heena created ‘Getaway’. “Though I enjoyed cooking up a storm and spending quality time with my family, there was a part of going outside which I liked a lot and this series stems from those happy times.” An oil dispenser, spatula, coffee pot and other dishes give viewers a peek into pre-Covid times.

After the first lockdown, Heena attended an exhibition and workshop on quilting by women from the Siddhi community. “It was an eye-opener for me as well as a humbling experience to learn how we all had experienced the same thing during the pandemic. The process of quilting was new and exciting and it became the base for ‘My Favourite Things’,” she says. The collection includes 27 circular, quilted patches sewn with everyday motifs.

‘My Favourite Things’ from artist Heena Pari’s solo show ‘Cocooning’

‘My Favourite Things’ from artist Heena Pari’s solo show ‘Cocooning’
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Heena says that in perspective, she realises that she drew strength and inspiration from Nature. “This entire series was my way of saying what I did during the pandemic and a lot of people related to it due to their shared experiences.”

The final collection in the series, ‘Push and Pull’ depict the constant tug of war between her love for her family and her passion for her art.

Heena says the past two years have given her an insight into herself. “I kept returning to my art to get some semblance of comfort and I realised it was a way for me to be myself and make sense of what is going on in my head. I process my emotions through patterns, they become a way for me to meditate — I wouldn’t have used those words earlier,” she says.

Registering the significance of the date, Heena ensured ‘Cocooning’ opened on March 25, 2022 at Bengaluru’s No 1 Shanti Road, the second anniversary of India going into lockdown. The series can now be viewed at heenapari.com



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