Madhvi Parekh
Image courtesy of Madhvi Parekh & DAG.

Free admission (all visitors, all hours)

DAG presents “Madhvi Parekh: The Curious Seeker,” presented in collaboration with the Consulate General of India in New York. 

Spanning five decades, “The Curious Seeker” offers an unparalleled opportunity to explore Parekh’s evolution as an artist, from her roots in folk tradition, to the myriad ways that she diverged from conventions to create her own distinctive style. The exhibition features iconic works by the artist that together represent every phase of her illustrious career, including rare drawings and paintings from the 1960s, influenced by the abstraction of Paul Klee, and significant examples of works that feature recurring themes and subjects across her practice, including the countryside of India, religious imagery, and anthropomorphic forms.

Madhvi Parekh, ‘Playing With Animals,’ 1989, Oil on canvas

Parekh is recognized by scholars as one of the most significant living Indian artists, who has established her own oeuvre and language in contrast to the artistic conventions of her time. With no formal education in art, her work initially evolved from childhood memories, popular folk stories, legends of her village, and the forms of painting that were part of her family’s everyday rituals, such as the traditional floor designs of rangoli. Inspired by her artist-husband Manu Parekh and artists such as Paul Klee and Joan Miró, Parekh began painting in 1964. Her paintings are unplanned, unfolding like a story where she adapts each work to the scale it demands and developing from a single point into vast narratives.

Madhvi Parekh, ‘The Last Supper,’ 2011; reverse painting on acrylic sheet

“Madhvi Parekh has often been narrowly defined within the tradition of folk art in India, yet her practice defies categorization—reflecting her own distinct language, as well as wide-ranging influences that deserve further exploration,” said Kishore Singh, curator of the exhibition. “Bringing together works from every decade of her practice, this retrospective finally places Parekh squarely within the pantheon of Indian modernism.”

Apart from folk motifs, legends, and figures, Parekh also uses imaginary characters in figurative and abstracted orientations in her compositions, demonstrating her use of rhythm and repetition. In most of her works, she utilizes the familiar settings and motifs of Kalamkari, a traditional hand-painted or block-printed cotton textile, and Pichwai, devotional pictures on cloth or paper, in which she enshrines the main character of the composition in the center and fills the minor or secondary ones in the borders.