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Crossover: Fashion feeds abstract art

By Madhusree Chatterjee, New Delhi, March 19 : Art and fashion are like warp and weft, twined naturally into each other. A new breed of younger artists from the world over is now trying to create a contemporary visual language to express abstract narratives with symbols from popular fashion.


Faseeh Salim, a Pakistani textile designer-turned artist, uses textiles, fibres, knits, embroidery and mannequins as mediums to make installations and visuals that are fashion on the surface but works of art with deep meaning on the broad canvas.

"They are journeys in self-expression with a political, social and cultural message," Lahore-based Salim, who was in India for a residency programme, told IANS.

Salim knits body-like sculptures with matex fibre which shrinks when exposed to heat in combination with stainless steel fibre. The sculptures are knitted on industrial knitting machines, "ones on which they knit sweaters", and moulded to show the "fluid body statistics in the world of fashion and its relation with clothes that have to fit", the artist said.

One of his sculptures, 36"26"36", made in India, experiments with shop mannequins as a reference point for articles of clothings in which the body becomes a slave to the fibres that drape it.

The earthy colours and ethnic art of India are at the core of young Taiwanese artist Andy Wen's digitally printed "art clothes".

"I am from an arts background, but I am moving to fashion. I am trying to create digitally-printed India-style clothes for women. The Indian prints are accessible and different...Art and fashion meet at many points," Yen told IANS.

The artist, who was in India recently, created a range of 12 fusion Chinese-Indian clothes in cotton and silk painted with Indian motifs.

The art of copying, traditional fashion drawings and installation art meet in Mumbai-based artist Archana Hande's new mixed media work, "Copy Master ji".

Hande often uses textile printing technology on solid mediums like wood blocks to transform traditional Indian art into modern decorative designs that comment on urbanisation and globalisation.

"Everything is art. Art and fashion are two different mediums, but they both express. If I can design a costume that looks good on you, it is art," Hande told IANS.

Norwegian Julie Skarland, a fashion designer, moved to Delhi six years ago to make a career in conceptual art and fashion.

"My exposure to art and fashion helps me explore both the mediums in my work," Skarland told IANS. The artist, who trained in art and architecture in Norway, has studied dress making and fashion design in Paris.

"The Collection", a new installation by Skarland, is a set of open matchboxes on which Skarland reproduces a spring-summer women's wear collection in miniature drawings combining Norwegian progressiveness with Parisian chic on an essentially Indian medium.

"I use recycled material like old fabrics and table cloths for my clothes and it inspires me to recycle objects for my installation. I usually work towards developing a concept," the artist said.

Kolkata-based artist Paula Sengupta falls back on the nostalgia of the Bengal partition and human suffering with elements of fashion and textiles in her visual art narratives while Delhi-based artist-cum-fashion designer Varun Sardana "believes in fashion as a form of visual art".

Sardana used "music, theatre and performance art in his shows to express ideas".

"Fashion is personalised art. The connect between the two is the thought process. I try to create narratives," Sardana told IANS. One of his rare mixed media installations, "On My Passing Away", brought clothes, fashion, social commentary and his persona under one roof in a bare room.

"Using auto portraits of me in my skin and work from my recent collection of clothes, I have tried to explore the duality of my existence," Sardana said.

All information on the same platform - arts, fashion and marketing - overlap, says gallerist Peter Nagi. "The next bridge is politics with which art, fashion and design have to connect.

"Politics has to be more creative," Nagi said, predicting a trend for the future.

Roles have reversed, says graphic novelist and designer Sarnath Banerjee. "Fashion people are working with narrative concepts and art is becoming decorative like fashion," Banerjee said.

History says art and fashion have been coming closer since the beginning of the 20th century when leading European and American fashion designers became collectors of haute art - allowing their art works to influence their clothes.

(Madhusree Chatterjee can be contacted at madhu.c@ians.in)

--IANS (Posted on 19-03-2012)

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