Neha Verma

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Artist Statement

I consider each and every surface as an essence of thousands of touches which it has carried since ages. It is always interesting to me to create a work which can create a sense of the same. My native region, a small town near to Lucknow, has given me a way to think about this through form and memory. I was born and brought up in a small town near Avadh famous for its architecture incorporating patterned designs. This design sensibility imprinted itself deep in my mind. When I moved to Hyderabad for higher studies, the images of architecture that I came across here mingled with the blurred images of my childhood memories creating a new entity. I began to engage with the idea of a layered past and history, all viewed through the eye of architecture.

Paper is an important aspect of my work. I consider paper as a stone and by cutting it, I imagine, I am giving a dimension to those stones. Since my school education, I have been interested in geometry and patterns and this continued even later during my graduate studies when I took to woodcut and started working with patterns. I am drawn to the variation and scope of paper as a material. Another reason I enjoy working with paper is because I can use it in layers. Most often, I use natural white paper since it lends itself to evoking both history as well as a sense of the present. The carving on paper is a repetitive process which is extremely meditative and engrossing. When I started working with the repetitive process of carving paper, I was told that I should keep in mind the difference between art and craft. I believe the sense of making is of central importance and it does not matter whether it is art or craft.

I am drawn to intricate styles of art such as miniature and geometry and embroidery. My work is based on motifs and patterns that are symbolic of a certain place and its architecture. Through this, I evoke a sense of the past. Patterns also create different images and evocations in our mind and unraveling these give me a sense of joy. The elements that I use are typical of a certain monument or architectural style. I mine architectural forms and maps to distill motifs that can be repeated. There are two aspects behind using architectural forms as patterns. First, is their source and what this architecture means in the present context. Second, is the aesthetic element of architecture with its color, light, material, texture, shape and form and the atmosphere they create together. I use maps to create a representation of a space that existed. As cartography is a combination of science, aesthetics, technique and history, I use it to create a combination of reality and illusion. My works play with this sense of reality and illusion, permanency and impermanency in other ways too. I display them in such a way that their lighting casts a shadow on the wall thereby creating another work, but one that is temporary in nature. This sensitivity comes from my experience in printmaking.

My works dwell on places, their present, past and what they mean to us as we view them through the lens of historic, geographic and personal memory. A place is a dynamic entity. Its physical manifestation as well as memories associated with it change over time. When a place has been in existence for a long time it creates a lot of questions in my mind such as what it was like then, how it exists now and how it might change in future. My works therefore create portraits of places.

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