Brotherhood of Colours

Back from a workshop with tribal artists from Jharkhand, Italian artist Tarshito finds his romance with Indian art far from over

For a generation which knows no universally-endorsed definition of ‘peace’, translating the same into art usually stands the risk of running into clich├ęs. It’s almost delightful how Italian artist Tarshito skirts past the usual and the familiar, breaks across genres and comes up with an easy on rhetoric, high on style collection of banners and sculptors that promote world peace. The first thing that strikes one about Tarshito’s creations is the variety of materials he uses and how he fuses disparate media without cluttering the final outcome, in a single work. And his penchant for mixed media has a lot to do with his tryst with India, he says.

Born Niccola Strippoli in Italy, a chance visit to India confronted his knowledge of art with the sheer variety of forms of expression that the country is home to. “After I was done with my degree in architecture, my parents found me deserving enough to go on a holiday at their expense,” laughs Tarshito. He chose India, and rest might go down as history in his life and that of several art connoisseurs.

He has worked extensively in India, and dabbled in Gurjari textile design, Mythili paintings and also the dominant traditional art forms in Orissa . “I love the richness and depth of traditional Indian arts and crafts. I could spend a lifetime working on them,” he adds. And “The Vase and the Lines” on at the Bose Pacia, is just an affirmation of his affinity for things Indian. From fabric to motifs, Tarshito’s display of banners, artworks and sculptures, is almost like a flambouyant canvas of expressions with an essentially Indian core.

His banners are clinical in their precision and young, unconventional in style. Their message of stability despite disparities is subtly played out in the sharp juxtaposition of the solid colours of Naga fabrics pasted on a part of the canvas and the artwork accompanying it. One such is a blend of a vibrantly striped red-black Naga shawl and an intricate artwork that melds the maps of Italy and India together to create a unified mass of land. “I find the rich knits and geometrical designs of Naga fabrics extremely interesting,” he adds, “Also I interpret their rich knits as the intermingling of cultures I am propagating.”

Tarshito also plays around with text as a form of visual art. Several of his canvases use text in English and Italian almost in a quirky interpretation of the disciplines of pop art. Uni-dimensional vase-like forms made from wax is superimposed on an otherwise stark piece of cloth or handmade paper painted over with Mother Teresa’s words. “The vase is implicative of the ideal state of mind – receptive and unbiased,” says Tarshito.
It will be long before Tarshito is over his sustained affair with India. “The motifs, narratives and emotions running through Indian traditional art speak the language of humanity,” he sums up.