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Public Art Installations: by Kanika Bawa, Mumbai

Posted by
on February 17, 2016 at 12:50 PM

The multi-faceted, multi-talented Kanika Bawa, of Tattwam Designs, registered as a Design Consultant on TFOD by virtue of her all-encompassing repertoire of work in design and décor, has over the years, surfaced as an artist and steadily garnered a solid reputation in the field of art installations in public spaces. Some of Kanika’s best-known and acclaimed indoor/outdoor art installations include the Flying Man for the Ruia Group, the Bohemian Light Installation, the Havan Kund Chair Installation and the Winged Man. Her series on "Tree of Life" defines her spiritual thoughts and philosophy of art and life!


© Courtesy of the artist

The interior designer with a professional experience spanning over 18 years in the design industry, is known for her proficiency in design + build varying from interiors, product design, industrial design, installation design, styling + window displays, and trend forecasting in design.

Kanika's larger-then-life artworks are exhibited at art shows, cultural events, trade-fairs, and public art festivals – with the recently concluded Kala Ghoda Arts Festival and the ongoing Make In India show. Here, Kanika displayed a 10’ 10 ½” Kathakali Chair and a pair of 10’ 6” Kolhapuri Chappals – both of which have made it to the Limca Book of Records – and may soon be on their way to the Guinness! 

And why Kolhapuri Chappals?? The Kolhapuri Chappal represents a dwindling Indian tradition. Originating in the 13th Century, the Kolhapuri Chappal is the oldest Indian handmade footwear! The quintessential Indian slipper most comfortable to wear, in the hot Indian conditions – is a Maharashtrian creation, handed down through the generations. It is a simplistic slipper that is good to wear. It ensures user comfort and cools the feet. Made from buffalo leather, the slippers reduce body heat, and are good for the eyes, and for managing back pain and diabetes too. This is because of the lesser-known fact that the slippers have defined acupressure points on them – made using black vinchu seeds!  The seeds are also responsible for the peculiar crunching sounds that are a characteristic feature of the slippers – but as folklore suggests, in earlier eras, the sound was also incorporated to scare away wild animals while traversing miles through woods and jungles. Plus the location of acupressure points also ensured that people could walk for miles without the feet getting tired. Even Shivaji Maharaj’s soldiers are said to have crossed the roughest of terrains and fought many battles with the Kolhapuri slippers on their feet! 

Now, alas - it is an item that may soon be lost to the world – because of pressures of modern life such as younger generations not finding it lucrative enough to continue, and socio-political factors such as the beef ban! 

Similarly, the Kathakali Chair is a reflection of vibrant India. Kathakali as a dance form is most intriguing; stories are narrated in the dance-drama with exquisite costumes, elaborate facial make-up, and bold colours on headgear and jewelry. To use this concept on an art-installation using a piece of furniture – a chair – is unique. The unusual canvas lends itself to a good deal of creative exploration – plus it is interactive! You can sit on it, experience it at close quarters and get transported into the imaginary world it creates for you. Besides each user’s experience will also be unique – the chair won’t tell you what to visualize! Of course, the grandeur and majesty of the scale and detailing are awe-inspiring and breathtaking. 

Thus all of Kanika’s recent art installations portray an effort to remember, respect and revive Indian traditions. 

The third one – which adorns the traffic circle near Churchgate Station, is the Surya Namaskar Art Yogi. A symbol of wellness, this installation of a 12 feet tall yogi and his salutations to the Sun God- Surya – is a celebration of yoga.  It is a silent reminder that we celebrate the World Yoga Day yet tend to overlook the importance of yoga in our lives. The Surya Namaskar with its 12 Asanas, drives away negativity and depression and gives the yogi the benefits of a healthy body, mind and spirit. In Kanika’s installation, the yogi gets transformed into a piece of pop-art – rendered with bright colours, Indian motifs, his body painted with the seven chakras, and adorned by a beautiful lotus face.

Art Installations - are one of the fastest growing of all contemporary art-forms. India too has seen a resurgence of the art, especially with the many art fests now being hosted around the country. Kanika Bawa is certainly one of the most prominent names in the field of art installations in India. Her art-works stem from a deeply philosophical nature, a spirituality that seems to blossom with each piece! 

Photo Captions:

Pics: 1-6. Kolhapuri Chappals; Pics: 7-9. Kathakali Chair; Pics: 10-12. Surya Namaskar Art Yogi; Pics:13-14. Tree Of Life; Pic:15. Flying Man


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