Pulp Art

Artist Kirti Chandak makes mixed media works and installations, using paper pulp as her medium.

Towards the end of the '90s, while at M S University in Baroda, Puducherry-based artist Kirti Chandak became interested in paper pulp art. She was, however, doing a Masters course in painting. Hence, she didn't actively start work with paper pulp besides as a hobby until a few years later. In 2000, when Chandak moved back to Puducherry to work as a freelance artist, she began working with raw pulp more regularly.

"I loved using handmade paper from the ashram factory," recalls the 41-year-old artist. "Once I enquired if I could buy raw pulp made out of banyan rugs instead of paper, and the director of the factory generously allowed me to take as much pulp as I wanted," she says. Thereafter, she began experimenting with the material and eventually created many works using pulp. Some of these are being showcased at an exhibition titled "Romance with Paper Pulp" at AKS Art Gallery in Oshiwara.

Chandak's fondness for the material comes from the fact that pulp can both be modelled and painted on. "While making paper, the pulp is malleable and allows me to create textures, to scoop out to make voids or add on to emboss relief forms, besides the sensitive surface is absorbent and has the possibility of being painted on with the subtle nuances of watercolour," she says.

Among the works that are on display at the Andheri gallery, one is titled Satyameva Jayate — a Sanskrit phrase that translates to 'truth alone triumphs' — and the second one titled The Dreamer, a watercolour on gauze cloth and paper pulp work. It is a representation of the famous proverbial principle 'see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil'.

She says paper pulp allows her to form each particular work as she goes along. "Sometimes, I am very clear from the start about the composition," the Nashik-born artist says, adding, "At other times, I allow the paper surface to lead my hand. It has allowed me to explore some concepts through installations such as Necessities of Life and Draupadi's Vastram, which were possible only because of the medium," she states.

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