Songs from the Blood of the Weary (Dialogues of Peace) : Rekha Rodwittiya
This work was created by Rekha Rodwittiya as part of an exhibition commemorating the 50th anniversary of the United Nations at Geneva in 1995. Additional works from Sakshi Gallery provide us an understanding of the artist’s journey and the issues that are central to her work.
Mumbai, East Wing, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, 159 - 161, Mahatma Gandhi Road, FortMap
Songs from the Blood of the Weary was first created by artist Rekha Rodwittiya as part of an exhibition commemorating the 50th anniversary of the United Nations at Geneva in 1995. Curated by Adelina Von Furstenburg, the exhibition featured works by 60 artists from all over the world. Rodwittiya’s work was brought down to India once the exhibition ended and displayed at the Nehru Centre auditorium where Jehangir Nicholson came upon it and decided overnight that he wanted it to be part of his collection. Songs from the Blood of the Weary brings together twelve paintings in the form of a painted room that represent one of the earliest installations by an Indian artist.
Twelve additional works from the collection of Sakshi Gallery form part of this exhibition. They were all created in the years leading up to ‘the painted room’, the earliest work dating back to 1985 and provide us an understanding of the artist’s journey and the issues that are central to her work.
Rekha’s paintings seem to throb with the energy and vibrance that she brings to the whole process of living. Her canvases ooze varying shades of red, yellow and ochre sometimes almost painful in the suggestions they make or the events they allude to. Through her work she seeks a vocabulary that represents women without objectifying them. Her larger than life figures of women going about their daily tasks dominating their surroundings and the objects around them is a celebration of the female protagonist.
In the artist’s words - “My work celebrates all aspects of womanhood and explores the many avatars that female empowerment embraces. I hold as consistent the desire to examine the feminine space of survival, the spirit of female endurance and the empowerment of pride and self-dignity that centuries of feminist oral histories are infused by, as the territory from which my work takes shape. ”
The works from an earlier period included in this exhibition reflect Rodwittiya’s engagement with the socio-political environment that she finds herself within. Among these The Travellor Tells His-story is a seminal work that alludes to the bias of history favouring men. It marks a turning point in her practice, where Rodwittiya arrives at a language and style that come to represent her future work. Burnt Earth Yields Strange Fruit articulates her outrage at the increasing instances of honour killings, female infanticide and dowry deaths.