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Metaphors in Shivani's art

Shivani Aggarwal’s artworks aren’t a jigsaw puzzle. They showcase her creativity but accompany hidden meanings. The artist likes to metaphorically express stories of life through the objects she sees around her. In a tête-à-tête, she shared the story behind the artworks she showcased at the India Art Fair 2022. Excerpts…

Shivani Aggarwal with her work 'The Creases I Iron'

How many artworks did you showcase at the India Art Fair?

There are three of them. My first work is inspired by an inch tape that we use in our house. I have shown it as a wooden installation. I have tried to build a comparison between how a mere measuring tool is used by people to measure everything.

I also have a set of a few sketches of things that I see around me such as mugs, inch tape or the iron in my house. My final artwork is in teak wood. It is inspired by the iron that we use in our homes.

What does your work on the inch tape highlight?

‘How Do I Measure?’ draws inspiration from the inch tape that we have it our homes. But I gave it the shape of a huge wooden installation. As a process, I always draw things that I see around me and give them a shape based on the sketches.

For instance, when I looked at the inch tape, I thought that it is a measuring tool. But then I realised how we measure everything around us. Sometimes we measure somebody’s worth, their success and happiness and sometimes people measure our worth and happiness. So, in a way, we are constantly measuring strange things that are completely futile. Yet, we continue to judge, think and measure.

Why did you choose wood as a material for creating the inch tape?

I am trained as a painter and not as a sculptor. To give the perfect shape to my idea, I keep on exploring different materials. I have worked with fibre glass in the past and have realised that it is not an organic material. Wood, on the other hand, is naturally available. It is easy to cut, break and mould it in any form as per my convenience. That is why I chose wood over other materials.

I have used teak wood for this installation. I bought the wood from the market and then polished it. Later, I added hash marks using acrylic colours so that my artwork would look like an inch tape in the real sense.

Inching closer to reality: 'How Do I Measure?’

But why did you create a thick inch tape?

I wanted to make the handling of the final product easy. That’s why I chose to make it thick. Had I chosen a thin inch tape, it would have been difficult to hold it. The artwork could have broken while picking it up.

We can see the hash mark on the inch tape? Were they created keeping the measurements in mind?

Yes, I used the measuring tape to add hash marks on the sculptor. Even though the sculpture looks exaggerated, I ensured that the elements looked similar to the original piece so that people could relate to the original tool.

Which is your preferable medium?

I have been working as an artist for the past 17 years. I have explored a range of mediums - from paintings to fibre glass sculptures and threads to videos. But I have always believed that art is not about exploring mediums but expressing a thought. I am not rigid about sticking to one medium. I choose the one that expresses my thoughts clearly.

What inspired you to create ‘The Creases I Iron’?

Every day while ironing, I began to think of all the things that I had to ‘iron’ for myself as a woman, person and mother. ‘Iron’ here mean as a tool of resolution for me. I had to really take away the creases of my mind. But then, there are some things that one cannot resolve. So, I have made a little puzzle on the face of the iron with a few alphabets that show the issues that I have to deal with every day.

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