HYDERABAD: It’s not often that we see two royal cities from up north and down south brought together in absolute unison especially when they are mentioned only in terms of linguistic squabbles of being better at sesquipedalianism of quaint Urdu words that mark the tehzeeb both the places are renowned for. Yes, we are talking about Lucknow and Hyderabad. And we are also talking about their merging in paper-cut canvases. Neha Verma, an MFA student at UoH from Lucknow, has done precisely that through her fragile opuses. Not only this, to define the City of Pearls through threads and cloth artist Sumana Som’s works fit the bill. The oeuvres of both the artists are on display at Dhi Artspace as part of the exhibition ‘Mapping Territories’.
The most eye-catching artwork in the gallery is Neha’s large curtain style paper cut opus that is spread from the top of the wall to the adjacent ground. What is most remarkable about this piece is the intricate cuts that explore the architecture of Lucknow city. The artist shows the glorious architecture of the yesteryears in a cluster at the bottom of the work and the old historical structures recede at the top of the canvas giving way to just a few empty windows which stand witness to the merciless demolition of old havelis and palaces that once defined the city. It took seven months for her to finish the artwork. She explains, “I did an extensive study on the architecture of lattice along with map work. In some of the opuses, I have mapped the geographies of both Hyderabad and Lucknow.”
Another interesting set of artworks by her are created with handmade paper and silver leaves. She says, “I wanted to show the layers of time and how the memories overlap atop each other.” That’s how the metal in the series is shown in its different changing colours from a bright silver to a pale yellow.
The artworks of Sumana Som, who hails from Kolkata, is all about the history of Hyderabad done in fabric with threads and ink. A huge artwork of hers showcases Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah holding his beloved Bhagmati by a string of pearls as she flies high. There’s a huge feather of threads and quilling strips between them which showcases the vulnerability of two hearts. The artist has divided the opus into three portions in the same cloth canvas. The other parts explore Indian annexation of the then princely state Hyderabad as Nehru and Nizam shake hands.
In another of her work one sees a huge skeleton buried under the earth around which human skeletons are scattered, but quite surprisingly, life itself sprouts from the bones finding a crevice to peep out of the dead womb of the earth. The threadwork and the use of fabric lend excellence to the artwork. The exhibition is on till September 22
— Saima Afreen