dhaka art summit solo projects
February 5-8, 2016 | prabhavathi meppayil | Dhaka Art Summit
Prabhavathi Meppayil, dp/sixteen/part one, 2015-2016. Commissioned and produced by the Samdani Art Foundation for the Dhaka Art Summit 2016. Courtesy of the artist, Dhaka Art Summit, Samdani Art Foundation and PACE, London. Photo credit: Jenni Carter
Entering the central hall of the Dhaka Art Summit, Prabhavathi Meppayil unsettles the viewer by turning the room upside down, creating an immersive installation which displaces the negative space of the coffered ceiling outside the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy and placing it inside the floor of the building. Meppayil’s art practice draws on traditional cra and values the truth of materials and tools as well as simple forms, colours and shapes. Coffered ceilings are an ancient and universal element of architecture. In her installation dp sixteen (2015-2016) Meppayil creates movement between the floor and ceiling, outside and inside. She creates a subtle phenomenological experience of an architecture connected to an infinite grid of cubes. In his analysis of Meppayil’s work, Benjamin Buchloh points out that grids are possibly the most basic principal of modernist abstraction, and also panels for tantric meditation. He continues that “Meppayil’s paintings seem to be driven by a latent desire to leave behind the parameters of pictorial space and its supporting surfaces, reaching for an ultimate sublimation of the painterly rectangle in a numinous architectural space.”
Meppayil transforms her “painterly rectangles” through meditatively applying white gesso, a material used in most of her work since 2009 that is traditionally used to prime wooden surfaces for later layers of paint. Through her choice of materials, the artist extends painting into the space of architecture, where wood, grids, layers, wiring, and primed surfaces create environments for us to inhabit. Her intervention simultaneously creates order and disorder in the exhibition space, and reminds the viewer to consider the seen and unseen elements creating our sense of being in the world.