Life in Miniature


Works of British artist Alexander Gorlizki, who has been working with Indian miniature paintings for 16 years, are on display in India for the first time.

Alexander Gorlizki, prefers to dwell in ambiguity. He calls his work a "collection of riddles" and thinks of himself as a "messy head" that visualises pictures to their intricate extreme but doesn't execute them entirely. Gorlizki works on the iconography, compositions, colour schemes and patterns to draw the creative outline, but hands over the inner detailing to Jaipur-based miniature artist Riyaz Uddin. The paintings shuttle between Jaipur and New York, as they undergo coats of intricate layers, sometimes taking even more than a year to complete. The peculiar set up of Gorlizki's works has been going on for the last 16 years, ever since he discovered the unparalleled craftsmanship the miniature painters of the region possess.

With this, Gorlizki found a mode to channelise his West-bred independent voice through an Indian form of painting he had fallen in love with ever since his first visit to the subcontinent 30 years ago. "My eyes are always buzzing in India. Sometimes the influences might be other art forms such as sign-painting or tile work in a mosque, but it could also be a sari border design or the patterns on a lungi," says the British artist, whose collective set of works, titled We Like It Here, We're Not Moving, is being shown at the Amrita Jhaveri Project in Walkeshwar Road, Mumbai. Despite his strong creative relationship with India and his multiple previous visits, this is the first time Gorlizki's works are being showcased through an exhibition in the country. The exhibition is on till October 26.

Gorlizki's first exposure to miniature paintings was through his mother, an antique shop owner, with whom he spent his formative years trotting across Central and South Asia. "There is something liberating about the visual intensity of an object that isn't specifically made to be 'art'. Even a toolbox from Nuristan will be decorated with beautiful ornate carving it's quite different from what I'd find at Home Depot," he says.

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