The inspiration for art can come from anywhere; it could be your day-to-day surroundings or some profound experience, which you had. Whatever the case may be, it is nothing but a way of expressing your thoughts, beliefs, ideas, or even an event which you regularly witnessed.
One can get a clear understanding of it when you come across the art work titled ‘Maati Dev (Mud God)’ by artist Divesh Gadekar at Sunaparanta Goa Centre for the Arts, at Altinho, Panjim. This work is part of the multimedia group exhibition titled, ‘Time, Space, Memory: decoding contemporary video.’ It is curated by Leandre D’Souza, and includes the works of Srinivas Mangipudi, Enit Maria, Dhiraj Pednekar and Afrah Shafiq.
In Gadekar’s work, we come across a video that speaks about the bond between nature and local festivals of Goa. He emphasizes this with a beautiful watercolour collage of the flora, which is used on a matoli—a wooden canopy suspended above the Ganesh idol during the annual Ganesh Chaturthi festival.
BEHIND THE ART
“When you make an attempt to understand the core of the local festivals of Goa, you realise that they all are about nature. For example, the Ganesh idol is made from river mud, then, it is worshipped and later, immersed in water. And thus, it goes back to where it has come from,” says Gadekar, a multidisciplinary artist who uses sound, form and visuals in versatile ways. His work is deeply influenced by the rhythms and traditions of folk instruments from his native surroundings.
This is well reflected in his video installation that pieces together 20,000 images of the hibiscus, Ganesha’s most-loved flower, which appears to rise from the earth and return back to its origin. Merging in the background is the Goan folk dance, fugdi, where the songs also speak about matoli, and various natural elements.
Even the room, where this video is played, is decorated with paper craft, the way the rooms are generally decorated where the idol is placed during Chaturthi.
Through this work, Gadekar wants to stress on the fact that our festivals are all about nature and the celebration of our biodiversity. But sadly, now we are disconnected with this concept as sometimes PoP (Plaster of Paris) idols are used (even though they are banned in Goa since they pollute water bodies), or by engaging in reckless fanfare.
He adds that this exhibition aims to draw attention towards the sustainable way of celebration, and most importantly, why our ancestors followed certain customs and rituals.
CONNECTING WITH NATURE
Gadekar gives the example of the matoli — for which he gathered information from environmentalist, Rajendra Kerkar, referred to books and even spoke to elders to get a clear picture about it.
“The matoli is a magnificent display of biodiversity, and most of these flowers, fruits, leaves, etc are medicinal. It is a way of telling the story of the importance of these plants to the future generation,” he says.
His research about the matoli is still on-going as he informs that in some forested villages of Goa, more than 300 species of plants are used for the matoli and some are very rare. He is now in the process of documenting them.
This work by Gadekar is an excellent way to learn more about Goa’s local festivals, especially Chaturthi.
With Ganesh Chaturthi just round the corner, if you are curious to know more about it and also the matoli, that too in a very creative way, then make sure you don’t miss this exhibition.
To know more about the matoli, check out this link: https://sgcfa.org/Matoli-DiveshGadekar.pdf
The group exhibition ‘Time, Space, Memory: decoding contemporary video’ is on view till September 17, 2022 from 10 am to 6:30 pm at Sunaparanta Goa Centre for the Arts, Altinho, Panjim