WITHIN FOUR WALLS
Nandini Bagla Chirimar
June 10 – July 15, 2022
What are the elements that transform a lived space into a life? How do the spaces that we interact with daily, acquire form outside their corporeal manifestation? What is the meaning of a home? Can we trace the tacit presences of identity in the wooden frame of a painting, or the incline of a much trodden stairway?
These are some of the questions that Nandini Bagla Chirimar asks through her detailed study of inhabited spaces in Within Four Walls. This series of 11 Japanese woodblock print collages are recomposed fragments of sparse, carefully delineated spaces within the interiors of a household.
“I am interested in physical spaces created by architecture, and also the “unwritten spaces”, which exist along with concrete floor plans and objects. These could be in the form of abstract configurations of the walls, historical remnants, or undefined spaces created by emotions within the walls. As an example, when we live within the same walls month after month, we start to look at them differently. Sometimes the walls seem to close in, and at other times, create an almost sacred space which holds our dreams.”
Nandini’s multi-layered process is a re-enactment of the act of looking. One is aware of the viewer seeing the lines converge, and the spaces closing in. It is an attempt to find some unity in them, to locate order, and calmness. The print uncovers what goes into turning a house into a home, something that is revealed only through close, careful observation.
In the works featured here, the artist breaks down and remakes the original print, cutting and pasting, adding layers, translating movements of fantasy and imagination into surreal visions. It is this movement from certainty to uncertainty that creates a gap for the speculative connections a viewer can make.
While the converging walls invite the viewer to be inside them, they also suggest a breakdown of that space, and a reconfiguration of its contours. There are no people in these mise-en-scenes, but the residues of identity wash up against the surfaces, the way shadow suggests an imminent presence. As we see the disintegrated fragments of these rooms, through intersecting cross sections, they stand in for the presences that inhabit them.
“When you quietly close
the door to a room
the room is not finished.
It is resting. Temporarily.
Glad to be without you
for a while.
Now it has time to gather
its balls of gray dust,
to pitch them from corner to corner.
Now it seeps back into itself,
unruffled and proud.
Outlines grow firmer.”
– From ‘How Do I Know When a Poem is Finished?’, Naomi Shihab Nye, Honeybee
The texture of the prints allow for an ephemerality which contradicts the sharpness of the lines. The black sections, made thick by successive ‘reprinting’ and layering, along with the sudden interruptions of gold leaf, surge outside the “four walls”. The minimalist aesthetic is more gesture, than explanation. You might spy a nightsky stretched taut on a ceiling, or a stolen moment in an alleyway, witnessed through an open window. By only hinting at other possibilities, with no flourish of colour, the work draws us to our own impulses of how we see ordinary things.
These are glimpses from a process, rather than discrete finished elements of a holistic work – milestones in the breakdown of architecture. In this breakdown, there is the kindling of other visions, shapes and forms that have a shade of familiarity, but a movement towards something completely new. In essence these works open up traditionally enclosed spaces as environments imprinted upon by social and emotional interactions.